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Emmert, Maria (2010): Cognitive Reserve and its Association with Cognitive Abilities and the Big Five: An Examination of young and older Adults. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
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Abstract

The present study explored the concept of cognitive reserve by using a testing-the-limits paradigm (Kliegl et al., 1989). 140 young (M = 22.8 years, range = 20-30) and 140 older (M = 67.3 years, range = 57-75) adults were provided with extensive retest practice in the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST) and a visual search task. Cognitive abilities (fluid reasoning, memory, attention) and personality dimensions (Big Five) served as predictors of retest improvement (i.e., cognitive reserve). Latent Growth Curve analyses demonstrated greater DSST improvement for the young group, but similar visual search improvement for both age groups, indicating age-independent cognitive reserve in visual search. Improvement rates for both tasks were weakly correlated, speaking rather for task-specific learning than for a general cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve was rather independent from cognitive abilities and, with one exception, also from personality dimensions. Implications for cognitive reserve in general and DSST and visual search retest learning in particular are discussed.