Learning impairments and the instability of memory are defining characteristics of cognitive aging. However, it is unclear if deficits in the expression of new memories reflect an accelerated decay of the target memory or a consequence of inefficient learning. Here, aged mice (19-21-mo old) exhibited acquisition deficits (relative to 3-5-mo old mice) on three learning tasks, although these deficits were overcome with additional training. When tested after a 30-d retention interval, the performance of aged animals was impaired if initial learning had been incomplete. However, if trained to equivalent levels of competence, aged animals exhibited no retention deficits relative to their young counterparts. These results suggest that age-related "memory" impairments can be overcome through a more effective learning regimen.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cognitive Neuroscience