Sex-related differences in resolving proactive interference during associative memory tasks
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Prior studies have shown that males and females perform differently on a variety of memory tasks. It is suggested that certain biological factors can lead to sex-related differences in cognitive decline, memory, and learning. The present study explores this further by examining the performance of males and females on associative memory tasks when exposed to proactive interference (PI). The findings of this study may aid in understanding the underlying mechanisms involved in overcoming interference and improving memory. This study utilized 49 individuals (F = 26, M = 23) between the ages of 18 and 77. The participants were asked to complete associative memory tasks while exposed to varying levels of interference (high interference, low interference, or no interference). During the encoding portion of the memory task, participants were asked to determine the ease in which two images presented together could be imagined. During the retrieval portion of the memory task, participants were asked to recall which associate category (face or scene) the presented object was most recently paired with in the encoding phase. Electroencephalography (EEG) data was also collected while the participants completed the memory tasks, but due to time-constraints and limitations introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, this data was not analyzed. A 3x2 repeated measures ANOVA conducted found a significant main effect of interference on memory accuracy, but no significant difference in the effects of interference on the memory accuracy of both sexes. Additionally, no interaction between interference conditions and sex was found. However, a paired samples t-test found significant differences in memory accuracy between the three interference conditions used in this study. Given this, future studies may modify components of this study to observe sex-related differences, such as changes to the associative memory task or an increase in the sample size. In the future, the potential analysis of EEG data may shed light onto differences in neural activity between the two sexes when exposed to PI.