• Glisky, Elizabeth L (PI)

Project: Research project

Grant Details


DESCRIPTION: The primary goal of
the research is to determine whether older adults, who show explicit
memory deficits, can nevertheless acquire complex, domain-specific
knowledge and skills, and apply them effectively in novel "contexts". The
knowledge and skills to be investigated are those related to the
understanding and operation of a computer. Older adults have been slow to
take advantage of modern technology, and as a result are threatened by
decreased status and isolation in a society that is becoming increasingly
dominated by computers. It seems certain that elderly people could
benefit significantly from the use of computers if given the opportunity
to learn how to use them. Computers could be used to provide
opportunities for continued learning, for communication and maintenance of
social interaction, for entertainment, for home management, and even for
career development in late adulthood. The proposed studies will attempt
to teach older adults several computer tasks including computer-related
vocabulary, simple computer programming, data-entry, database management
and word-processing. The training technique will be the method of
vanishing cues, a cuing technique that permits self-paced independent
learning through the provision of cue information, which is gradually
reduced across trails. The method has been used successfully with
memory-impaired brain-damaged patients, and is designed to take advantage
of memory and learning functions that are often preserved even in severe
amnesia. Similar functions remain intact in aging individuals although
there are almost certainly significant differences between the two groups
as well. The strategy for the present research is to extend the
methodology and applications developed for use with amnesic patients to an
aged population. The relation between the performance of old and young
subjects, as well as the relation between the performance of elderly and
brain-damaged subjects, should provide information concerning the
processes and structures involved in complex learning and transfer tasks.
In addition, to the extent that learning and memory functions compromised
in aging can be identified, it should be possible to structure future
rehabilitation programs in ways that take advantage of cognitive strengths
and minimize dependence on cognitive weaknesses. Two theoretical issues
are addressed in the proposed experiments. One concerns the representation
of newly-acquired knowledge in semantic memory and the other concerns the
adequacy of a processing resources account of cognitive aging in
explaining complex learning and transfer phenomenon.
Effective start/end date9/30/918/31/95


  • National Institutes of Health: $125,418.00


  • Medicine(all)


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