Publication Date

Fall 2015

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Sharon Mutter (Director), Diane Lickenbrock, and Lance Hahn

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Research has shown that detecting and judging causal relationships requires associative learning and memory. Retrospective revaluation of causal cues requires associative memory (Aitken, Larkin, & Dickinson, 2001) to bind multiple cues together and use these associations to retrieve unseen cues for revaluation of their associative value. The difficulty that older adults experience with respect to retrospective revaluation could occur because of their deficit in associative binding and retrieval (Mutter, Atchley, & Plumlee, 2012). Like retrospective revaluation, blocking requires cue – outcome associative learning, but unlike retrospective revaluation, blocking does not require binding two cues together nor does it require using the resulting association between these cues for retrieval. Older adults display no deficit in blocking (Hannah, Allan, & Young, 2012; Holder & Mutter, in submission). To assess the effects of aging on associative learning and memory in causal judgment, this study examined age effects in retrospective revaluation and blocking using an allergy scenario in a streamed-trial task (Hannah, Crump, Allan, & Siegel, 2009; Hannah et al., 2012). This study found that older and younger adults both displayed blocking effects, which supports past research. Additionally, it was found that older and younger adults displayed retrospective revaluation in working memory. The ability for older adults to display retrospective revaluation in working memory is a new finding. It suggests that there may be a decrement in associative long-term memory, but associative processes in working memory may be intact.


Cognition and Perception | Cognitive Psychology | Experimental Analysis of Behavior