Two experiments tested the hypothesis that elderly adults conduct less elaboration of information to be learned than young adults. In Experiment I, young and elderly adults were tested for free and context-cued recall of target words embedded in sentences ending in relevant (precise) or irrelevant (imprecise) elaborations. In Experiment 2, young and elderly adults were tested for recall of words in sentences for which relevant or irrelevant elaborations were provided or sentences for which relevant or irrelevant elaborations were generated by the participants. They were also tested for memory of the elaborations themselves. Elderly adults showed as much benefit from the provision of relevant elaborations as young adults but were less likely to generate relevant elaborations. The results reflect age-related differences in elaborating stimulus words in terms of previous knowledge and in encoding specific attributes of sentence contexts.
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