Date of Award

Fall 2003

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

Christina Frederick-Recasino, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dahai Liu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cass Howell, Ed.D.


Many studies have shown that older adults tend to perform more poorly on memory tasks, when compared to younger people. Conversely, studies have also indicated that there may be ways to combat this decline in age related memory performance by using memory aid techniques. In addition to memory aid techniques, word familiarity may be used to increase memory performance because working memory for familiar words benefits from the availability of long-term phonological memory representations, which act to "clean up" the decaying memory traces of items in the list retrieval stage. This memory study compared word recall performance of younger and older adult age groups using words that are familiar (relevant) and unfamiliar (irrelevant) to each of the specific age groups. The study found evidence that among older and younger adults, there is better recall for both words created by and used for their specific generations, in addition to words related to an age-specific life activity. This study also found evidence that the older age group exhibited higher levels of false recall than younger adults for both the familiar words and conceptually linked words.