Parlez-vous français? Episodic and Semantic Feeling of Knowing in Aging

  •  Suzannah Morson    
  •  Chris Moulin    
  •  Jelena Havelka    
  •  Celine Souchay    


As well as memory performance, the sensations and experiences that accompany memory retrieval can be
informative regarding changes to memory that occur with aging. One such experience is the Feeling of Knowing
(FOK), the sensation that an item which has failed to be recalled is nonetheless stored within the memory system,
though temporarily unavailable. Older adults consistently show preserved FOK accuracy for semantic
information. However, measures of FOK accuracy in episodic memory tasks have yielded inconsistent findings.
The present study used a novel language translation paradigm to assess the effect of age on semantic and
episodic FOK judgments, and to examine the impact of repeated learning trials on episodic FOKs. As expected,
no age effect was found for semantic FOK judgments. For episodic judgments, older adults’ only were found to
have chance levels of performance: FOK judgments in the older adult group were not predictive of future
memory performance. Repeated learning trials led to comparable improvements in FOK accuracy between the
two age groups, although older adults remained at chance until after the third learning trial. Results are
interpreted within recent memory and metamemory frameworks.

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