Benefits of graphic design expertise in old age: Compensatory effects of a graphical lexicon?

U. Lindenberger, Yvonne Brehmer, R. Kliegl, P.B. Baltes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific


The research of Lindenberger, Brehmer, Kliegl and Baltes into the cognitive decline-compensating effects of expertise is based on the difference between fluid and crystallized intelligence. While fluid intelligence measures such as speed and capacity are more biologically determined and thus decline with age, crystallized intelligence measures encompass culture-based skills and factual knowledge, and are more resilient to ageing-induced decline. Would the graphic expertise of professional older designers protect them against cognitive decline compared to young designers and two age- and intelligence-matched control groups? This was tested in a training study using the Method of Loci where visualization and imagery is essential, as recall of words is cued by previously associated landmarks. As expected, graphic designers showed better performance on spatial tests than controls, but this was even more pronounced in the older group, where the designers had consistently higher scores than their age peers. While older graphic designers could not match the performance of the young groups, they did fare better than their age-matched controls in the post-training Method of Loci memory assessment. It is concluded that although graphic expertise could not entirely compensate for the biologically determined reduction in fluid intelligence, there was a positive effect on episodic memory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrawing and non-verbal intelligence
EditorsC. Lange-Küttner, A. Vinter
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780511489730
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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