Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Sharon Mutter (Director), Dr. Steven Haggbloom, Dr. Andrew Mienaltowski

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Previous research has consistently shown associative deficits in older adults learning and memory (Chalfonte & Johnson 1996; Naveh-Benjamin, 2000; Naveh-Benjamin, Hussain, & Bar-On 2003) that are related to decreases in hippocampal function (Driscoll et al., 2003; Mitchell, Johnson, Raye, & D’Esposito, 2000). However, older adults learn certain simple predictive relationships between events (Mutter & Williams, 2004) that involve basal ganglia dependent error-driven learning. The goal of the current study was to determine whether error-driven learning could reduce the age-related associative deficits that are associated with hippocampal decline. The results did not support the idea that error-driven learning enhanced older adults’ associative memory, although our study supported normal error-driven processing in older adults. Our study confirms prior findings showing that age differences in associative memory are greater following an error-driven learning task than following an observation learning task (Schmitt-Eliassen, Ferstl, Wiesner, Deuschl, & Witt, 2007; Shohamy et al., 2004). Therefore, the results of the study did not support enhanced associative memory for older adults due to errordriven processing.


Cognition and Perception | Psychology