Preserved Cross-modal Priming and Aging: A Summary of Current Thoughts
2009, 41 (11):
Research on within-modal repetition priming suggests that this form of implicit memory is preserved in older adults not only for visual stimuli but also for stimuli presented to other perceptual modalities (e.g., touch, audition, and olfaction). Fewer studies, however, have examined whether priming is modality specific. Studies conducted with young adults have shown that cross-modal (vision-to-touch and touch-to-vision) transfer was similar in magnitude than within-modal transfer (vision-to-vision and touch-to-touch). A recent study further investigated whether cross-modal priming between these perceptual modalities is preserved in older adults. The results suggest that cross-modal priming between vision and touch is preserved and symmetric in both, young adults and older adults. Moreover, within-modal and cross-modal priming for ecological sounds and pictures is preserved with age. These behavioural findings and other recent neuroscience results suggest that cross-modal priming occurs in posterior extrastriate occipital areas that are preserved in aging. Future directions for research in this area include the performance of well designed cross-modal priming studies conducted in normal elderly and Alzheimer´s disease patients using different perceptual modalities, familiar and novel stimuli combining behavioural and brain imaging measures, and the inclusion of well designed priming tasks in programs directed to improving memory functions in the elderly.
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