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Pictorial Illustrations Enhance Memory for Sentences in Adults

Cherry, K.E., Dokey, D.K., Reese, C.M., Brigman, S. (2003). Pictorial Illustrations Enhance Memory for Sentences in Younger and Older Adults. Experimental Aging Research, 29, 353-370.

In these studies, the authors examined the effects of verbal and pictorial illustrations on younger and older adults' recall of the content of short sentences. During acquisition, base and elaborated sentences were presented under one of three encoding conditions: (a) sentences only; (b) sentences with matching pictures; (c) incomplete sentences with matching pictures. At test, participants recalled the main action of the sentences. Base sentences were recalled more often than elaborated sentences when strict scoring criteria were used. However, older adults showed a recall advantage for elaborated sentences compared to base sentences when lenient scoring criteria were applied. Positive effects of pictorial illustrations occurred for both age groups. Implications for the design of instructional formats to improve older adults' retention of textual material are discussed.