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Hamm, V. P. and Hasher, L. (1992). Age and the availability of inferences. Psychology and Aging, 7, 56-64.


Age differences in inference availability and memory were investigated using a speeded decision procedure and cued recall. Younger and older adults read passages that directly suggested either a target inference or an incorrect, competing inference before finally supporting the target inference. At critical points in a passage, subjects judged whether each of a series of words, including either the target or competing inference, was consistent with their current interpretation. Although both groups agreed on the final target inference, younger and older adults showed different patterns of inference availability and revision. Older adults showed broader and more sustained activation of alternative interpretations and also showed lower levels of inference recall. These findings are interpretable by a framework that proposes age-related breakdowns in inhibitory mechanisms that control the contents of working memory (Hasher & Zacks, 1988).

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