Inter- and Intraindividual Variability in Recognition Memory: Effects of Aging and Estrogen Use
Traditionally, studies of cognitive aging have focused on comparing the average performance of younger and older adults, whereas variability around the mean has been attributed to task-irrelevant noise. The present study examined the hypothesis that variability in memory performance increases with age and that estrogen helps temper age-related increases in variability. Postmenopausal estrogen users, estrogen and progestin (est + prog) users, and nonusers, as well as younger women, completed 16 blocks of an item-source memory task. Older women showed greater variability than younger women on measures of dispersion and consistency. Estrogen users, but not est + prog users, performed more consistently than nonusers. Overall, age-related increases in variability differed with the type of variability measured, and estrogen use, but not est + prog use, appeared to reduce age-related increases in at least 1 form of variability.
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- February 23, 2018