Age-related decline in item but not spatiotemporal associative memory for a real-world event.

Normal aging is typically associated with reduced ability to reconstruct the spatiotemporal context of past events, a core component of episodic memory. However, little is known about our ability to remember the order of events comprising extended real-world experiences and how this ability changes with age. We leveraged the richness and structure of a museum exhibit to address this question. Three months after visiting the exhibit, 141 adults aged 18–84 completed a test of spatiotemporal order memory and old/new recognition using pictures from the exhibit and similar lures, from which measures of associative and item memory were derived. Order discrimination accuracy was modulated by interitem order and distance in younger and older adults, extending findings from recognition of laboratory stimuli at short delays to remote real-world experiences. In contrast to established findings from laboratory-based assessments, we observed a significant effect of aging on item memory driven by increased lure susceptibility, but no age-related reduction in spatiotemporal associative memory. These findings present novel insights into different components of memory for real-world experiences at naturalistic timescales and across the lifespan. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)