Age-related impairments of new memories reflect failures of learning, not retention

Louis Matzel, Christopher Wass, Stefan Kolata, Kenneth Light, Danielle C. Colas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-594
Number of pages5
JournalLearning and Memory
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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