Aging, memory, and context

There are limitations to memory research studies conducted only in the lab, especially if they never include memory tasks and situations that are encountered in everyday life (in fact this is a limitation of lab studies investigating any cognitive process, not just memory).

For example, when researchers take into account how aging adults remember things in day-to-day life, they start to get a different picture of the difficulties people experience with memory as they get older:

When people are tested in the lab and have nothing to rely on but their own memories, young adults typically do better than older adults, she said.

Remarkably, when the same studies are conducted in real-world settings, older adults sometimes outperform young adults at things like remember appointments or when to take medicines.

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