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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Geriatrics - Mental Health - Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience

A Procedural Approach to Remembering Personal Identification Numbers among Older Adults
Published: Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Author: Michael K. Gardner et al.

by Michael K. Gardner, Robert D. Hill, Christopher A. Was

This study investigated whether a motor skill learning intervention could provide better memory for personal identification numbers (PINs) as compared to a control group. Younger (ages 18 to 40) and older (ages 61 to 92) participants were randomly assigned to conditions. All participants received three days of training consisting of 12 blocks of 12 trials each. Participants were tested immediately after training, after four days, and after seven days. Dependent measures were errors, latencies, and number of correct responses per minute. Younger participants were less error prone, faster, and produced more correct responses than older participants. Training condition (motor skill-based versus control training) had no significant effect on any of the dependent variables. Testing time had a significant effect on latency, and the effect of testing time on latency interacted with age group. In a second study, six older individuals diagnosed as having mild cognitive impairment (MCI) were trained using the motor skill learning intervention. Their performance was compared with that of the younger and older motor skill groups from the first experiment. The results showed that the older MCI group was significantly slower, more error prone, and produced fewer correct responses per minute than the older, normal group. Thus the presence of diagnosed MCI significantly impairs memory for PINs beyond the impairment expected from normal aging.