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Paired Associates Learning: Adding Sensitivity By Measuring Reaction Times

Measures of accuracy on the CANTAB Paired Associates Learning (PAL) task have shown benefit in predicting amyloid-beta positivity. Computerised testing brings an unprecedented ability to capture more detailed information about responses: exactly where, when and in which order responses were made.

This research, presented at AAIC 2017, examines detailed performance on the CANTAB Paired Associated Learning (PAL), a computerised task of visual memory and learning.


Participants were 94 healthy adults aged between 20 and 79. A series of linear mixed-effect models (GLMM) in R using maximum likelihood estimation tested the effect of age, gender, correctness of response, item position and difficulty of the level on reaction times (RT).


Response times were significantly predicted by all factors, with the exception of gender. Task difficulty (number of patterns to be recalled) was significantly associated with reaction time. As the memory load increased, response time became progressively longer, consistent with more effortful processing in these conditions.

Interested in learning more about how PAL task reaction times can be used to quantify the impact of pathology and treatment on memory? Download this poster.


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