Date of Award

Fall 1-10-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Additional Affiliations

Behavior, Brain & Cognition

Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



The testing effect—or the benefit of retrieval practice to later memory—is often considered to be a recollection-related phenomenon. However, recent work (Shaffer & McDermott, 2020) has observed a benefit of testing to both recollection and familiarity processing on both immediate and delayed final tests. Further, although aging populations show marked declines in recollection, older and younger adults often benefit from testing to a similar degree (Meyer & Logan, 2013). This finding suggests that the testing effect in older adults may function via relatively preserved familiarity and lends further support to the notion that the testing effect does not function solely via recollection-related processes. The current project builds on this prior work with the aim of better understanding the mechanisms from the dual process perspective that underlie the testing effect in both younger and older adults. To this end, younger (18-22 yo) and older (65-82 yo) adults studied words, took cued-recall tests on half of the words, and took a final recognition test on all words immediately or 1 day later in which parameter estimates of recollection and familiarity were calculated. At both delays, older and younger adults exhibited a testing effect in both recollection and familiarity, although the magnitude of the testing effect in recollection was smaller for older than for younger adults. These findings add to the growing literature suggesting that the testing effect can be supported by changes in both recollection and familiarity processing. Further, whereas the benefit to familiarity appears to persist across age, the benefit to recollection may decline. Implications for theories of the testing effect, as well as for its application in older adults, are explored.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Kathleen B. McDermott

Committee Members

Henry L. Roediger, David A. Balota

Supplementary_Materials_for_Masters_Thesis_RuthShaffer_2021.pdf (715 kB)
Supplementary Materials for Master's Thesis