Special Issue "Cognitive Development and Individual Variability"

A special issue of Journal of Intelligence (ISSN 2079-3200).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 November 2017).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Professor Anik De Ribaupierre
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Geneva, 40 Boulevard du Pont d’Arve, CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland
Interests: individual differences; cognitive development; variability; cognitive aging
Dr. Thierry Lecerf
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Geneva, 40 Boulevard du Pont d’Arve, CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland
Interests: cognitive psychology; psychometric assessment; structure of intelligence; individual differences

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The standard cognitive developmental approach still consists of cross-sectional studies comparing different ages. However, it has long been shown, for instance, by means of longitudinal studies, that the results are rather different when viewed from a longitudinal perspective. Moreover, there are very few studies adopting a multivariate design rather than a univariate one. As a result, we know little about intraindividual variability across tasks. The focus has systematically been on groups and not on individuals. The necessity to focus on the individual has been repeatedly emphasized, most recently in very important papers by Nesselroade and Molenaar. However, results are systematically presented based on aggregated data. Anecdotic but very illustrative can be the following statement recently read in a review: “The findings make a compelling case that intraindividual variability exists but not such a strong case that it matters. Said another way, measuring such variability often increases the testing burden on participants and researchers alike, sometimes substantially. What deep theoretical insights are likely to justify the extra effort? Many readers may conclude something like, ‘Yeah, interesting, but not worth the time, effort, and cost’.” This Special Issue represents a collective effort by authors coming from different geographical and theoretical horizons to convince the skeptical developmentalist that the effort is justified.

The general objective of the Special Issue is therefore to focus on intraindividual variability, whether within a task (“inconsistency”), across tasks (“dispersion”), and/or across years (“intraindividual change”), and of course on interindividual differences in intraindividual variability. Data from empirical studies will be presented and, whenever possible, compared with a more standard approach. For instance: a) comparing a focus on individual, developmental trajectories with the same data presented from a group perspective, or b) demonstrating that a focus on short-term intraindividual variability might lead to different results than the usual focus on the intraindividual mean. Modeling or simulation studies will also be used. The relevance of this focus for a better comprehension of cognitive development should remain at the forefront. Deadline for abstracts: as soon as possible, and for full papers: 15 November 2017.

Prof. Dr. Anik de Ribaupierre
Dr. Thierry Lecerf
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Articles demonstrating empirically the usefulness of a focus on individual variability are encouraged. Short communications are also welcome. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office and will be forwarded to the Guest Editors.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Intelligence is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial
On the Importance of Intraindividual Variability in Cognitive Development
J. Intell. 2018, 6(2), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6020017 - 22 Mar 2018
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 5801
Abstract
Developmental cognitive psychology (as well as cognitive psychology in general) has a long-standing tradition to ignore all variations other than age, as if individual variations were only measurement error or noise[...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Development and Individual Variability)
Article
Cognitive Development Is a Reconstruction Process that May Follow Different Pathways: The Case of Number
J. Intell. 2018, 6(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6010015 - 08 Mar 2018
Viewed by 5866
Abstract
Some cognitive functions shared by humans and certain animals were acquired early in the course of phylogeny and, in humans, are operational in their primitive form shortly after birth. This is the case for the quantification of discrete objects. The further phylogenetic evolution [...] Read more.
Some cognitive functions shared by humans and certain animals were acquired early in the course of phylogeny and, in humans, are operational in their primitive form shortly after birth. This is the case for the quantification of discrete objects. The further phylogenetic evolution of the human brain allows such functions to be reconstructed in a much more sophisticated way during child development. Certain functional characteristics of the brain (plasticity, multiple cognitive processes involved in the same response, interactions, and substitution relationships between those processes) provide degrees of freedom that open up the possibility of different pathways of reconstruction. The within- and between-individual variability of these developmental pathways offers an original window on the dynamics of development. Here, I will illustrate this theoretical approach to cognitive development—which can be called “reconstructivist” and “pluralistic”—using children’s construction of number as an example. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Development and Individual Variability)
Article
Variability in the Precision of Children’s Spatial Working Memory
J. Intell. 2018, 6(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6010008 - 28 Feb 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 6532
Abstract
Cognitive modeling studies in adults have established that visual working memory (WM) capacity depends on the representational precision, as well as its variability from moment to moment. By contrast, visuospatial WM performance in children has been typically indexed by response accuracy—a binary measure [...] Read more.
Cognitive modeling studies in adults have established that visual working memory (WM) capacity depends on the representational precision, as well as its variability from moment to moment. By contrast, visuospatial WM performance in children has been typically indexed by response accuracy—a binary measure that provides less information about precision with which items are stored. Here, we aimed at identifying whether and how children’s WM performance depends on the spatial precision and its variability over time in real-world contexts. Using smartphones, 110 Grade 3 and Grade 4 students performed a spatial WM updating task three times a day in school and at home for four weeks. Measures of spatial precision (i.e., Euclidean distance between presented and reported location) were used for hierarchical modeling to estimate variability of spatial precision across different time scales. Results demonstrated considerable within-person variability in spatial precision across items within trials, from trial to trial and from occasion to occasion within days and from day to day. In particular, item-to-item variability was systematically increased with memory load and lowered with higher grade. Further, children with higher precision variability across items scored lower in measures of fluid intelligence. These findings emphasize the important role of transient changes in spatial precision for the development of WM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Development and Individual Variability)
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Brief Report
Children’s Allocation of Study Time during the Solution of Raven’s Progressive Matrices
J. Intell. 2018, 6(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6010009 - 28 Feb 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 5700
Abstract
The acuity of reasoning on Raven’s Progressive Matrices is strongly influenced by strategic determinants. Building on metamemory studies that highlight the influence of study-time allocation on memory development, we investigated children’s allocation of study time while solving these matrices. A total of 170 [...] Read more.
The acuity of reasoning on Raven’s Progressive Matrices is strongly influenced by strategic determinants. Building on metamemory studies that highlight the influence of study-time allocation on memory development, we investigated children’s allocation of study time while solving these matrices. A total of 170 children aged 6–12 years completed a computerized short-form version of the standard matrices featuring items selected to represent a broad range of difficulties. Beyond analyzing changes in mean latencies and performances with age, we used generalized additive mixed models to explore within-participant variability in response times as a function of both item complexity and overall individual efficiency. Results revealed that individual differences in performances were significantly associated with children’s adaptive modulation of response times. Mediation analysis further indicated that response-time modulation contributed to age-related changes in performance. Taking account of study-time allocation in reasoning tasks may open up new avenues for the study of reasoning development and the assessment of intellectual functioning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Development and Individual Variability)
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Article
A Solution to the Measurement Problem in the Idiographic Approach Using Computer Adaptive Practicing
J. Intell. 2018, 6(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6010014 - 02 Mar 2018
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 6105
Abstract
Molenaar’s manifesto on psychology as idiographic science (Molenaar, 2004) brought the N = 1 times series perspective firmly to the attention of developmental scientists. The rich intraindividual variation in complex developmental processes requires the study of these processes at the level of the [...] Read more.
Molenaar’s manifesto on psychology as idiographic science (Molenaar, 2004) brought the N = 1 times series perspective firmly to the attention of developmental scientists. The rich intraindividual variation in complex developmental processes requires the study of these processes at the level of the individual. Yet, the idiographic approach is all but easy in practical research. One major limitation is the collection of short interval times series of high quality data on developmental processes. In this paper, we present a novel measurement approach to this problem. We developed an online practice and monitoring system which is now used by thousands of Dutch primary school children on a daily or weekly basis, providing a new window on cognitive development. We will introduce the origin of this new instrument, called Math Garden, explain its setup, and present and discuss ways to analyze children’s individual developmental pathways. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Development and Individual Variability)
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Article
Intraindividual Variability in Inhibition and Prospective Memory in Healthy Older Adults: Insights from Response Regularity and Rapidity
J. Intell. 2018, 6(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6010013 - 01 Mar 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 6519
Abstract
Successful prospective memory (PM) performance relies on executive functions, including inhibition. However, PM and inhibition are usually assessed in separate tasks, and analytically the focus is either on group differences or at most on interindividual differences. Conjoint measures of PM and inhibition performance [...] Read more.
Successful prospective memory (PM) performance relies on executive functions, including inhibition. However, PM and inhibition are usually assessed in separate tasks, and analytically the focus is either on group differences or at most on interindividual differences. Conjoint measures of PM and inhibition performance that take into account intraindividual variability (IIV) are thus missing. In the present study, we assessed healthy older adults’ level of performance and IIV in both inhibition and PM using a classical Go/NoGo task. We also created a prospective Go/NoGo version that embeds a PM component into the task. Using dynamic structural equation modeling, we assessed the joint effects of mean level (μ), an indicator of amplitude of fluctuations in IIV (or net IIV; intraindividual standard deviation, iSD), and an indicator of time dependency in IIV (the autoregressive parameter ϕ) in reaction times (RTs) on inhibition and PM performance. Results indicate that higher inhibition failure, but not IIV, predicted PM errors, corroborating the current literature on the involvement of prepotent response inhibition in PM processes. In turn, fastest RT latency (μ) and increased net IIV (iSD) were consistently associated with prepotent response inhibition failure, while coherence in RT pattern (ϕ) was beneficial to inhibition performance when the task was novel. Time-dependent IIV (ϕ) appears to reflect an adaptive exploration of strategies to attain optimal performance, whereas increased net IIV (iSD) may indicate inefficient sustained cognitive processes when performance is high. We discuss trade-off processes between competing tasks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Development and Individual Variability)
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Article
Intraindividual Variability across Neuropsychological Tests: Dispersion and Disengaged Lifestyle Increase Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease
J. Intell. 2018, 6(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6010012 - 01 Mar 2018
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 6151
Abstract
Objective: Increased intraindividual variability (IIV) in function has been linked to various age-related outcomes including cognitive decline and dementia. Most studies have operationalized IIV as fluctuations across trials (e.g., response latencies) for a single task, with comparatively few studies examining variability across [...] Read more.
Objective: Increased intraindividual variability (IIV) in function has been linked to various age-related outcomes including cognitive decline and dementia. Most studies have operationalized IIV as fluctuations across trials (e.g., response latencies) for a single task, with comparatively few studies examining variability across multiple tasks for a given individual. In the present study, we derive a multivariable operationalization of dispersion across a broad profile of neuropsychological measures and use this index along with degree of engaged lifestyle to predict risk of cognitive impairment. Participants and Methods: Participants (n = 60) were community-dwelling older adults aged 65+ years (M = 74.1, SD = 6.5) participating in a cross-sectional investigation of risk factors for amnestic mild cognitive impairment (a-MCI) and probable Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Participants were classified into three subgroups based on test performance and clinical judgement. Healthy controls (n = 30) scored better than −1 SD relative to existing norms on all classification measures, in the absence of memory complaints or functional impairments. The a-MCI group (n = 23) had self- or informant-reported memory complaints and scored 1 SD or more below the mean for at least one memory task while scoring better than 1 SD below the mean for all other cognitive domains, in the absence of functional impairments. The AD group (n = 7) scored at least 2 SD below the mean for two cognitive domains (including memory) with impairments in functioning. Measures spanned a range of cognitive domains (episodic memory, executive function, language), with the derived dispersion estimates reflecting variability across an individual’s neuropsychological profile relative to the group average. Further, an Activities Lifestyle Questionnaire, indexing social, cognitive, and physical behaviors, was administered to assess the protective benefits of engaged lifestyle. Results: Multinomial logistic regression models examined the risk of being classified as a-MCI or AD as a function of increased dispersion, (dis)engaged lifestyle, and their interaction. Greater dispersion was associated with an increased likelihood of being classified with AD, with protective engaged-lifestyle benefits apparent for a-MCI individuals only. Conclusion: As a measure of IIV, dispersion across neuropsychological profiles holds promise for the detection of cognitive impairment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Development and Individual Variability)
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Article
Intra-Individual Variability from a Lifespan Perspective: A Comparison of Latency and Accuracy Measures
J. Intell. 2018, 6(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6010016 - 14 Mar 2018
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 6131
Abstract
Within-task variability across trials (intra-individual variability (IIV)) has been mainly studied using latency measures but rarely with accuracy measures. The aim of the Geneva Variability Study was to examine IIV in both latency and accuracy measures of cognitive performance across the lifespan, administering [...] Read more.
Within-task variability across trials (intra-individual variability (IIV)) has been mainly studied using latency measures but rarely with accuracy measures. The aim of the Geneva Variability Study was to examine IIV in both latency and accuracy measures of cognitive performance across the lifespan, administering the same tasks to children, younger adults, and older adults. Six processing speed tasks (Response Time (RT) tasks, 8 conditions) and two working memory tasks scored in terms of the number of correct responses (Working Memory (WM)—verbal and visuo-spatial, 6 conditions), as well as control tasks, were administered to over 500 individuals distributed across the three age periods. The main questions were whether age differences in IIV would vary throughout the lifespan according (i) to the type of measure used (RTs vs. accuracy); and (ii) to task complexity. The objective of this paper was to present the general experimental design and to provide an essentially descriptive picture of the results. For all experimental tasks, IIV was estimated using intra-individual standard deviation (iSDr), controlling for the individual level (mean) of performance and for potential practice effects. As concerns RTs, and in conformity with a majority of the literature, younger adults were less variable than both children and older adults, and the young children were often the most variable. In contrast, IIV in the WM accuracy scores pointed to different age trends—age effects were either not observed or, when found, they indicated that younger adults were the more variable group. Overall, the findings suggest that IIV provides complementary information to that based on a mean performance, and that the relation of IIV to cognitive development depends on the type of measure used. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Development and Individual Variability)
Article
Individual Differences in Developmental Change: Quantifying the Amplitude and Heterogeneity in Cognitive Change across Old Age
J. Intell. 2018, 6(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6010010 - 28 Feb 2018
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 5850
Abstract
It is well known that cognitive decline in older adults is of smaller amplitude in longitudinal than in cross-sectional studies. Yet, the measure of interest rests generally with aggregated group data. A focus on individual developmental trajectories is rare, mainly because it is [...] Read more.
It is well known that cognitive decline in older adults is of smaller amplitude in longitudinal than in cross-sectional studies. Yet, the measure of interest rests generally with aggregated group data. A focus on individual developmental trajectories is rare, mainly because it is difficult to assess intraindividual change reliably. Individual differences in developmental trajectories may differ quantitatively (e.g., larger or smaller decline) or qualitatively (e.g., decline vs improvement), as well as in the degree of heterogeneity of change across different cognitive domains or different tasks. The present paper aims at exploring, within the Geneva Variability Study, individual change across several cognitive domains in 92 older adults (aged 59–89 years at baseline) over a maximum of seven years and a half. Two novel, complementary methods were used to explore change in cognitive performance while remaining entirely at the intra-individual level. A bootstrap based confidence interval was estimated, for each participant and for each experimental condition, making it possible to define three patterns: stability, increase or decrease in performance. Within-person ANOVAs were also conducted for each individual on all the tasks. Those two methods allowed quantifying the direction, the amplitude and the heterogeneity of change for each individual. Results show that trajectories differed widely among individuals and that decline is far from being the rule. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Development and Individual Variability)
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