Amy Overman presents research on memory at Cognitive Aging Conference
The associate professor of psychology, faculty member in the neuroscience program and associate director of Elon's Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, presented research at the 16th Cognitive Aging Conference held April 14-17, 2016 in Atlanta.
Associate Professor of Psychology Amy Overman presented research at the 16th Cognitive Aging Conference held April 14-17, 2016 in Atlanta. She co-authored two presentations with current and former students she has mentored in research.
The first presentation was, "Not all associations age equally: Presentation format effects associative binding in older adults." It was co-authored with Elon alumna Abby Steinsiek '15 and John Huhn and Nancy Dennis of Penn State University. This research builds on prior work from Overman's lab indicating that older adults' difficulty in forming associations in memory depends on the the type of association and that associative memory can be improved by changing the manner in which the information is presented.
The second presentation was "Within-trial versus inter-trial associations in free recall among young and older adults." It was co-authored with Michelle Stocker '16 and Joseph D.W. Stephens of North Carolina A&T University. This research expands the upon prior studies of the associative deficit hypothesis in a novel way by integrating the explanatory power of another theory, the item-specific-relational framework (ISR). The associative deficit hypothesis posits that older adults have particular difficulty making links between pieces of information in order to form memories and the ISR framework posits that processing information about items impairs the ability to process links between items.
The results from both projects are consistent with theories of how the neural mechanisms of associative memory differ between age groups, likely due to the way older adults use structures of the medial temporal lobe, such as the hippocampus and perirhinal cortex. The projects build on one of the main research priorities of Overman's lab, which is to understand neural and cognitive mechanisms by which memories are formed and how this process can be strengthened in older adults.
The projects were supported by the Elon Honors Program and the Elon Undergraduate Research Program. The Cognitive Aging Conference is the premier academic conference for research on aging, cognition and the brain.