The survival effect in memory refers to the memory enhancement for materials encoded in reference to a survival scenario compared to those encoded in reference to a control scenario or with other encoding strategies . The current study examined whether this effect is well maintained in old age by testing young (ages 18–29) and older adults (ages 65–87) on the survival effect in memory for words encoded in ancestral and/or non-ancestral modern survival scenarios relative to a non-survival control scenario. A pilot study was conducted to select the best matched comparison scenarios based on potential confounding variables, such as valence and arousal. Experiment 1 assessed the survival effect with a well-matched negative control scenario in both young and older adults. The results showed an age-equivalent survival effect across an ancestral and a non-ancestral modern survival scenario. Experiment 2 replicated the survival effect in both age groups with a positive control scenario. Taken together, the data suggest a robust survival effect that is well preserved in old age across ancestral and non-ancestral survival scenarios.
Yang L, Lau KPL, Truong L (2014) The Survival Effect in Memory: Does It Hold into Old Age and Non-Ancestral Scenarios? PLoS ONE 9(5): e95792.