Individual differences in executive functions and retrieval efficacy in older adults.

Two prominent aspects of memory problems in older adults are a difficulty in retrieving recent episodic events and an often transient inability to retrieve names and other well-known facts from semantic memory. The question addressed in the present studies was whether these age-related difficulties reflect a common cause—a retrieval problem related to inefficient executive functions (EF). In the first study, 50 older adults were given 4 tests of EF; a derived composite measure correlated strongly with a measure of retrieval efficacy in free recall, less strongly with paired-associate recall, and nonsignificantly with retrieval of general knowledge. A second study used somewhat different measures of EF and also different measures of retrieval from semantic memory, and this study did find significant relations between EF, episodic memory, and knowledge retrieval. Changes in the specific tests representing both EF and memory retrieval changed the relations between them, suggesting that no one task is a pure measure of the theoretical constructs of either EF or episodic and semantic memory. Taken together, the 2 studies showed that individual differences in EF in older adults are correlated with retrieval efficacy in both episodic and semantic memory but also that these relations depend on the specific measures chosen to represent both EF and memory retrieval. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)