Executive function and emotional focus in autobiographical memory specificity in older adults


The current study examined the role of executive function in retrieval of specific autobiographical memories in older adults with regard to control of emotion during retrieval. Older and younger adults retrieved memories of specific events in response to emotionally positive, negative and neutral word cues. Contributions of inhibitory and updating elements of executive function to variance in autobiographical specificity were assessed to determine processes involved in the commonly found age-related reduction in specificity. A negative relationship between age and specificity was only found in retrieval to neutral cues. Alternative explanations of this age preservation of specificity of emotional recall are explored, within the context of control of emotion in the self-memory system and preserved emotional processing and positivity effect in older adults. The pattern of relationships suggests updating, rather than inhibition as the source of age-related reduction in specificity, but that emotional processing (particularly of positively valenced memories) is not influenced by age-related variance in executive control. The tendency of older adults to focus on positive material may thus act as a buffer against detrimental effects of reduced executive function capacity on autobiographical retrieval, representing a possible target for interventions to improve specificity of autobiographical memory retrieval in older adults.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2012.703210
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences
College of Health & Life Sciences > Chronic and Communicable Conditions
College of Health & Life Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an article published in Holland, C., Ridout, N., Walford, E., & Geraghty, J. (2012). Executive function and emotional focus in autobiographical memory specificity in older adults. Memory, 20(8), 779-793. Memory is available online at: www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09658211.2012.703210
Uncontrolled Keywords: autobiographical memory,executive function,older adults,emotion processing,Psychology(all),Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Publication ISSN: 1464-0686
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2024 08:06
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2019 18:21
Full Text Link: http://www.tand ... 211.2012.703210
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2012-12
Published Online Date: 2012-08-09
Authors: Holland, Carol (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-1846-8897)
Ridout, Nathan (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-7111-2996)
Walford, Edward
Geraghty, Jennifer



Version: Accepted Version

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