Use of an experimental language acquisition paradigm for standardized neuropsychological assessment of learning: A pilot study in young and older adults

Jenalle E. Baker, Loren Bruns, Jason Hassenstab, Colin L. Masters, Paul Maruff, Yen Ying Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Despite the numerous episodic memory tasks used in neuropsychological assessment, relatively few learning tasks are available, with methods lacking the complexity and sophistication to capture very subtle changes in information acquisition. Method: We adapted a previously validated associative learning task for use within an online framework, utilizing real-world stimuli, in which learning of audio-visual pairs of Chinese characters and English words occurs over 5 days. The aim of this study was to validate our adaptation to the task, provide estimates of rates of learning in both young and older adults, as well as provide a methodological framework for further adaptation and development of the paradigm. A total of 30 young adults and 30 older adults completed 5 days of the Chinese Characters Learning Task (CCLT). Results: Results indicated that rates of learning on the adapted task were comparable to the original paradigm and consistent across variations to testing frequency and duration. Our results also indicate the presence of a significant age-related impairment in the rate and accuracy of learning, with young adults aged 18–45 years performing significantly better than older adults aged 65–85 years, that was not due to differences in reaction time. Conclusions: These findings suggest that daily measurement of cognition via an online platform can detect age-related impairments in learning and is therefore applicable for use within the context of age-related disorders of memory and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-65
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • acquisition
  • associative learning
  • impairment
  • Learning curves
  • repeated assessment

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