This study aims to analyze implicit and explicit memory performance as a function of cognitive reserve (CR) in a healthy control group (N = 39) and a mild cognitive impairment (MCI) group (N = 37). Both groups were subdivided into high and low cognitive reserve, and were asked to complete an explicit and implicit associative recognition tasks. The results showed that the control group was able to learn both tasks (η2 = .19, p < .0001), and the high CR group fared better (η2 = .06, p < .05). The MCI sample, conversely, was unable to learn the implicit relationship, and showed very little learning on the explicit association task. Participants diagnosed with MCI showed little plasticity in learning associations regardless of CR (η2 = .12, p < .01).