Inter- and Intraindividual Variability in Recognition Memory: Effects of Aging and Estrogen Use

Wegesin, Domonick; Stern, Yaakov

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