Age-related delay in reduced accessibility of refreshed items

Julie A. Higgins, Matthew R. Johnson, Marcia K. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Previously, we demonstrated that in young adults, briefly thinking of (i.e., refreshing) a just-seen word impairs immediate (100-ms delay) perceptual processing of the word, relative to words seen but not refreshed. We suggested that such reflective-induced inhibition biases attention toward new information. Here, we investigated whether reduced accessibility of refreshed targets dissipates with a longer delay and whether older adults would show a smaller and/or delayed effect compared with young adults. Young adult and older adult participants saw 2 words, followed by a cue to refresh one of these words. After either a 100-ms or 500-ms delay, participants read a word that was the refreshed word (refreshed probe), the nonrefreshed word (nonrefreshed probe), or a new word (novel probe). Young adults were slower to read refreshed probes than nonrefreshed probes at the 100-ms, but not the 500-ms, delay. Conversely, older adults were slower to read refreshed probes than nonrefreshed probes at the 500-ms, but not the 100-ms, delay. The delayed slowing of responses to refreshed probes was primarily observed in older-old adults (75+ years). A delay in suppressing the target of refreshing may disrupt the fluidity with which attention can be shifted to a new target. Importantly, a long-term memory benefit of refreshing was observed for both ages and delays. These results suggest that a full characterization of age-related memory deficits should consider the time course of effects and how specific component cognitive processes affect both working and long-term memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-719
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Aging
  • Inhibition
  • Reflective attention
  • Refreshing
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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