The effect of memory test instructions on shifts in response bias in individuals with and without Alzheimer's disease
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Patients with dementia due to Alzheimer's disease (AD) tend to exhibit impairments in in their episodic memory. In yes-no tests of recognition memory, patients with AD often display liberal response bias, a stronger tendency to recognize unstudied items as already-studied "old" items. Such tendency is believed to be related to false memory, which can decrease the quality of life in many AD patients. In this study, we analyzed the effect of different instructional manipulations within yes-no recognition memory task on response bias. Younger healthy adults, older healthy adults and one AD patient were evaluated for recognition memory performance and response bias in three different conditions of instructional manipulation. In each session separated by a week-long interval, participants were shown 120 words to study and 240 words, half of which were studied items, to be tested for recognition memory. Instructional manipulation was added in the testing phase of each condition. In one session, the participants were asked if the words were old, studied items; in another session, they were asked if the words were new, unstudied items; finally in the third session, participants were asked to identify if the words were either old or new. Our findings corroborated previous studies by observing liberal response bias in AD and moderately conservative response bias in health adults. We found that the instructional manipulations did not have a significant effect on response bias in either control group while the effect in the AD patient was inconclusive.