Can changes in eye movement scanning alter the age-related deficit in recognition memory?

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Abstract

Older adults typically exhibit poorer face recognition compared to younger adults. These recognition differences may be due to underlying age-related changes in eye movement scanning. We examined whether older adults' recognition could be improved by yoking their eye movements to those of younger adults. Participants studied younger and older faces, under free viewing conditions (bases), through a gaze-contingent moving window (own), or a moving window which replayed the eye movements of a base participant (yoked). During the recognition test, participants freely viewed the faces with no viewing restrictions. Ownage recognition biases were observed for older adults in all viewing conditions, suggesting that this effect occurs independently of scanning. Participants in the bases condition had the highest recognition accuracy, and participants in the yoked condition were more accurate than participants in the own condition. Among yoked participants, recognition did not depend on age of the base participant. These results suggest that successful encoding for all participants requires the bottom-up contribution of peripheral information, regardless of the locus of control of the viewer. Although altering the pattern of eye movements did not increase recognition, the amount of sampling of the face during encoding predicted subsequent recognition accuracy for all participants. Increased sampling may confer some advantages for subsequent recognition, particularly for people who have declining memory abilities. © 2011 Chan, Kamino, Binns and Ryan.

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Chan, J. P. K., Kamino, D., Binns, M. A., & Ryan, J. D. (2011). Can changes in eye movement scanning alter the age-related deficit in recognition memory? Frontiers in Psychology, 2(MAY). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00092

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