Individual differences in task-specific paired associates learning in older adults: The role of processing speed and working memory

Tanja Kurtz, Jacqueline Mogle, Martin J. Sliwinski, Scott M. Hofer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background/Study Context: The role of processing speed and working memory was investigated in terms of individual differences in task-specific paired associates learning in a sample of older adults. Task-specific learning, as distinct from content-oriented item-specific learning, refers to gains in performance due to repeated practice on a learning task in which the to-be-learned material changes over trials. Methods: Learning trajectories were modeled within an intensive repeated-measures design based on participants obtained from an opt-in Internet-based sampling service (M age = 65.3, SD = 4.81). Participants completed an eight-item paired associates task daily over a 7-day period. Results: Results indicated that a three-parameter hyperbolic model (i.e., initial level, learning rate, and asymptotic performance) best described learning trajectory. After controlling for age-related effects, both higher working memory and higher processing speed had a positive effect on all three learning parameters. Conclusion: These results emphasize the role of cognitive abilities for individual differences in task-specific learning of older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-514
Number of pages22
JournalExperimental aging research
Volume39
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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