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01-11-2014 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2014

Psychological Research 6/2014

Individual differences in cognitive plasticity: an investigation of training curves in younger and older adults

Psychological Research > Uitgave 6/2014
Céline N. Bürki, Catherine Ludwig, Christian Chicherio, Anik de Ribaupierre


To date, cognitive intervention research has provided mixed but nevertheless promising evidence with respect to the effects of cognitive training on untrained tasks (transfer). However, the mechanisms behind learning, training effects and their predictors are not fully understood. Moreover, individual differences, which may constitute an important factor impacting training outcome, are usually neglected. We suggest investigating individual training performance across training sessions in order to gain finer-grained knowledge of training gains, on the one hand, and assessing the potential impact of predictors such as age and fluid intelligence on learning rate, on the other hand. To this aim, we propose to model individual learning curves to examine the intra-individual change in training as well as inter-individual differences in intra-individual change. We recommend introducing a latent growth curve model (LGCM) analysis, a method frequently applied to learning data but rarely used in cognitive training research. Such advanced analyses of the training phase allow identifying factors to be respected when designing effective tailor-made training interventions. To illustrate the proposed approach, a LGCM analysis using data of a 10-day working memory training study in younger and older adults is reported.

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