Cognitive Inconsistency and Practice-Related Learning in Older Adults

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The current study examined predictors of individual differences in the magnitude of practice-related improvements achieved by 87 older adults (mean age 63.52 years) over 18 weeks of cognitive practice. Cognitive inconsistency, as measured in both baseline trial-to-trial reaction times and week-to-week accuracy scores, was included as a predictor of practice-related gains in two measures of processing speed. Conditional growth models revealed that both reaction time and accuracy level, as well as rate-of-change in functioning, were related to inconsistency, even after controlling for mean-level, but that increased inconsistency was negatively associated with accuracy versus positively associated with reaction time improvement. Cognitive inconsistency may signal dysregulation in the ability to control cognitive performance or may be indicative of adaptive attempts at functioning.

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