False recognition of emotional word lists in aging and Alzheimer disease

Andrew E. Budson, Raleigh W. Todman, Hyemi Chong, Eleanor H. Adams, Elizabeth A. Kensinger, Terri S. Krangel, Christopher I. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To examine 3 different aspects of the emotional memory effect in aging and Alzheimer disease (AD): item-specific recollection, gist memory, and recognition response bias. METHOD: Younger adults, older adults, and patients with AD performed a false recognition memory test in which participants were tested on "lure" items that were not seen at study, but were semantically related to the study items. Participants were tested on 5 emotional and 5 non-emotional lists. RESULTS: In addition to finding an increase in true recognition for emotional versus non-emotional items in healthy younger and older adults but not in patients with AD, and confirming that emotional items led younger adults to shift their response bias to a more liberal one, 3 novel findings were observed. First, the emotional effect on response bias was also observed in healthy older adults. Second, the opposite emotional effect on response bias was observed in patients with AD. Third, emotional items did not lead to an improvement in item-specific recollection or gist memory. CONCLUSIONS: Although healthy older adults show the normal amygdala-modulated criterion shift for emotional items-influencing their subjective feeling that information has been previously encountered, the amygdala pathology present in early AD may disrupt this influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Aging
  • Alzheimer disease
  • Emotional memory
  • False memory
  • Response bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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