Production Improves Visual and Auditory Text Memory in Younger and Older Adults

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Introduction: The production effect refers to memory benefits for materials that were produced (e.g., read aloud) relative to not produced (e.g., read silently) at study. Previous works have found a production benefit for younger and older adults studying written words and for young adults studying written text. The present study aimed to extend these findings by examining the effect of production on text memory in younger and older adults, in the visual, and in the auditory modalities. Methods: A group of young adults (n = 30) and a group of older adults (n = 30) learned informational texts, presented either visually or aurally. In each text, half of the sentences were learned by production (reading aloud or writing) and half by no production (reading silently or listening), followed by fill-in-the-blank tests. Results: An overall memory performance was found to be similar for both groups, with an advantage for the auditory modality. For both groups, more test items were filled in correctly when the relevant information appeared in the produced than in nonproduced sentences, showing the learners' ability to use distinctiveness information. The production effects were larger for older than younger adults, in both modalities. Discussion: Since older adults are increasingly engage in learning, it is important to develop high-quality structured learning programs for this population. The current results demonstrate the preserved ability of older adults to successfully memorize texts and may guide planning of such programs. Specifically, since learning via the auditory modality yields superior performance for learners across age-groups, it may be recommended for text learning. Because older adults showed larger benefits from active production of the study material, it may be used to better remember educationally relevant material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-586
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2022


  • Informational text
  • Long-term verbal memory
  • Older adults
  • Presentation modality
  • Production effect


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