Effect of repetition lag on priming of unfamiliar visual objects in young and older adults

Leamarie T. Gordon, Anja Soldan, Ayanna K. Thomas, Yaakov Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Across three experiments, we examined the effect of repetition lag on priming of unfamiliar visual objects in healthy young and older adults. Multiple levels of lag were examined, ranging from short (one to four intervening stimuli) to long (50 + intervening stimuli). In each experiment, subjects viewed a series of new and repeated line drawings of objects and decided whether they depicted structurally possible or impossible figures. Experiment 1 and 2 found similar levels of priming in young and older adults at short and medium lags. At the longer repetition lags (̃20 + intervening stimuli), older adults showed less overall priming, as measured by reaction time (RT) facilitation, than young adults. This indicates that older adults can rapidly encode unfamiliar three-dimensional objects to support priming at shorter lags; however, they cannot maintain these representations over longer intervals. In addition to repetition lag, we also explored the relationship between priming and cognitive reserve, as measured by education and verbal intelligence. In the older adults, higher levels of cognitive reserve were associated with greater RT priming, suggesting that cognitive reserve may mediate the relationship between aging and priming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-231
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013



  • Aging
  • Cognitive reserve
  • Implicit memory
  • Object-decision task
  • Perceptual priming
  • Unfamiliar visual objects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Social Psychology

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