Both short- and long-term memories decline with healthy ageing. The aims of the current study were twofold: firstly, to build on previous studies and investigate the presence of a relationship between short- and long-term memories and, secondly, to examine cross-sectionally whether there are changes in this relationship with age. In two experiments, participants across the age range were tested on contextual-spatial memories after short and long memory durations. Experimental control in stimulus materials and task demands enabled the analogous encoding and probing for both memory durations, allowing us to examine the relationship between the two memory systems. Across two experiments, in line with previous studies, we found both short-term memory and long-term memory declined from early to late adulthood. Additionally, there was a significant relationship between short- and long-term memory performance, which, interestingly, persisted throughout the age range. Our findings suggest a significant degree of common vulnerability to healthy ageing for short- and long-term memories sharing the same spatial-contextual associations. Furthermore, our tasks provide a sensitive and promising framework for assessing and comparing memory function at different timescales in disorders with memory deficits at their core.
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