Age-dependent statistical learning trajectories reveal differences in information weighting

Steffen A. Herff*, Shanshan Zhen, Rongjun Yu, Kat R. Agres

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Statistical learning (SL) is the ability to generate predictions based on probabilistic dependencies in the environment, an ability that is present throughout life. The effect of aging on SL is still unclear. Here, we explore statistical learning in healthy adults (40 younger and 40 older). The novel paradigm tracks learning trajectories and shows age-related differences in overall performance, yet similarities in learning rates. Bayesian models reveal further differences between younger and older adults in dealing with uncertainty in this probabilistic SL task. We test computational models of 3 different learning strategies: (a) Win-Stay, Lose-Shift, (b) Delta Rule Learning, (c) Information Weights to explore whether they capture age-related differences in performance and learning in the present task. A likely candidate mechanism emerges in the form of age-dependent differences in information weights, in which young adults more readily change their behavior, but also show disproportionally strong reactions toward erroneous predictions. With lower but more balanced information weights, older adults show slower behavioral adaptation but eventually arrive at more stable and accurate representations of the underlying transitional probability matrix. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1090-1104
    Number of pages15
    JournalPsychology and Aging
    Volume35
    Issue number8
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Ageing
    • Geriatrics and Gerontology

    User-Defined Keywords

    • age-related differences
    • cognitive assessment
    • continuous paradigm
    • information weights
    • statistical learning

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