Ability-performance relationships in memory skill tasks for young and old adults

W. A. Rogers, D. K. Gilbert, A. D. Fisk

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The present experiment investigated ability-performance relationships for two memory skills, each of which required associative learning. Evidence suggests that, after practice, young and old adults have equivalent associative learning abilities (Fisk and Rogers, 1991; Kausler, 1982). We provided 41 young and 52 old adults with extensive practice on consistently and varied versions of a memory search task and a noun pair look-up task (Ackerman and Woltz, 1993). Only consistent practice allows associative learning because the stimulus items are consistently paired; in varied practice, item pairings change across practice and associative learning is not possible. We also assessed a wide range of abilities for each subject and were thus able to investigate ability-performance relationships across practice conditions and across age groups. These relationships provide an indication of the underlying abilities related to task performance (Ackerman, 1988). The mean data suggested that both young and old adults demonstrated successful associative learning in the two CM tasks. The individual differences data suggest, however, that different abilities may be driving performance across the two age groups. These data have important implications for predicting whether or not older adults will successfully acquire a new skill. If the target skill requires associative learning, older adults, may perform as efficiently as young adults if they are provided with sufficient, consistent practice. The ability-performance data suggest that predictions about which individuals will be most successful at skills requiring associative learning, may be dependent on the age of the target population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-171
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society - Seattle, WA, USA
Duration: Oct 11 1993Oct 15 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics


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