Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Age-Related Changes in Recognition and Response Criterion

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Age-Related Changes in Recognition and Response Criterion

Article excerpt

Recognition performance does not usually change along the lifespan, but the response criterion usually does, and in general, it changes from being conservative during youth to being liberal, in old age. The focus of the present study is to analyze the changes that take place, both in discrimination and response criterion, as a result of aging in two recognition tasks: one with neutral images, and the other with faces showing positive and negative emotional expressions. Two groups of participants performed both tasks: young (N = 21; age range, 17-33 years), older (N = 21; age range, 65-91 years). The analyses of several discrimination parameters (d' and probability of recognition) and the response criterion yielded significant age differences. Thus, results indicated that the ability to discriminate of older participants was better than that of younger participants when having to recognize neutral images, and faces with negative emotional expressions. The response criterion of younger participants was always conservative, whereas older participants only showed liberal criteria in front of faces with emotional expressions. In relation to the neutral images, the response criterion of older participants was optimum, because it led to more hits, without increasing the false alarms. The results are partially explained by the tasks differential difficulty, and are discussed within the frame of Simulation theory.

Keywords: age differences, recognition, response criterion, face recognition, facial expression valence.

El rendimiento en pruebas de reconocimiento no suele variar a lo largo de la vida, pero sí lo hace el criterio de respuesta empleado que, en general, pasa de ser conservador, en la juventud, a ser liberal, al envejecer. El objetivo del presente estudio es analizar los cambios que se producen en la discriminación y el criterio de respuesta en función de la edad en dos pruebas de reconocimiento: una frente a imágenes sin carga emocional y otra frente a caras con expresiones faciales positivas y negativas. Dos grupos de participantes realizaron ambas pruebas: joven (N = 21; rango de edad de 17-33 años), mayor (N = 21; rango de edad de 65-91 años). El análisis de diferentes medidas de discriminación (d' y probabilidad de reconocimiento) y del criterio de respuesta de los participantes en las distintas tareas experimentales arrojó diferencias significativas en función de la edad. Así, los resultados indicaron que la habilidad para discriminar de las personas de más edad supera a la de los jóvenes frente a imágenes neutras y caras con expresiones faciales negativas. En lo que respecta al criterio de respuesta, el de los jóvenes siempre fue conservador, en tanto que el de los mayores fue óptimo frente a imágenes neutras (más aciertos sin incremento de falsas alarmas) y liberal frente a las caras con expresiones faciales emocionales. Los resultados se explican en parte por la dificultad diferencial de las pruebas y se interpretan dentro del marco de la teoría de la simulación.

Palabras clave: envejecimiento, reconocimiento, criterio de respuesta, reconocimiento de caras, valencia de la expresión facial.

The ability to recognize information previously seen or heard does not seem to significantly worsen with age or at least, it does not decline as much as the ability to recall it (for a review, see, e.g., Hess, 2005). This stable performance on recognition tasks is usually reflected in an absence of differences in discrimination parameters such as d as a function of age (e.g., Mitrushina, Satz, Chervinsky, & D'Elia, 1991), although at times it is accompanied by age-related changes in the response criterion (e.g., Howard, Bessette-Symons, Zhang, & Hoyer, 2006). Thus, some researchers suggest that during youth, a more conservative response criterion is used, indicated by being less inclined to report having seen a stimulus previously presented. This conservative bias in recognition might lead to more correct rejections of distractors, but also to more misses of target items. …

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