The relationship between computer experience and computerized cognitive test performance among older adults

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2013 May;68(3):337-46. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbs071. Epub 2012 Aug 28.


Objective: This study compared the relationship between computer experience and performance on computerized cognitive tests and a traditional paper-and-pencil cognitive test in a sample of older adults (N = 634).

Method: Participants completed computer experience and computer attitudes questionnaires, three computerized cognitive tests (Useful Field of View (UFOV) Test, Road Sign Test, and Stroop task) and a paper-and-pencil cognitive measure (Trail Making Test). Multivariate analysis of covariance was used to examine differences in cognitive performance across the four measures between those with and without computer experience after adjusting for confounding variables.

Results: Although computer experience had a significant main effect across all cognitive measures, the effect sizes were similar. After controlling for computer attitudes, the relationship between computer experience and UFOV was fully attenuated.

Discussion: Findings suggest that computer experience is not uniquely related to performance on computerized cognitive measures compared with paper-and-pencil measures. Because the relationship between computer experience and UFOV was fully attenuated by computer attitudes, this may imply that motivational factors are more influential to UFOV performance than computer experience. Our findings support the hypothesis that computer use is related to cognitive performance, and this relationship is not stronger for computerized cognitive measures. Implications and directions for future research are provided.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Computers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neuropsychological Tests / standards*
  • Neuropsychology / instrumentation*
  • Neuropsychology / standards
  • Stroop Test / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • User-Computer Interface*