Short-term versus long-term longitudinal changes in processing speed.

ABSTRACT. Background: Previous longitudinal studies of cognitive aging have focused on long-term performance changes. A recent surge of research has demonstrated that there are reliable interindividual differences in short-term cognitive performance changes. Objective: The present study links these two pathways of cognitive aging research by examining the association between short-term (learning, practice) versus long-term (development) changes in processing speed. Methods: Data from 963 elderly participants come from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). Results: Nested latent growth curve analyses show that the amount of learning or practice in processing speed at first measurement occasion is positively related (r = 0.72) to individual differences in development of processing speed across six years. Conclusions: Short-term learning or practice gains in processing speed are positively associated with long-term developmental changes in processing speed in the elderly.