Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Volume 13 Issue 4 (August 1999), Pages 297-396

Improving memory in older adults by instructing them in professional actors' learning strategies (pages 315-328)


This study examined a new type of cognitive intervention. For four weeks, participants (ages 65 to 82) were instructed in professional acting techniques, followed by rehearsal and performance of theatrical scenes. Although the training was not targeted in any way to the tasks used in pre‐ and post‐testing, participants produced significantly higher recall and recognition scores after the intervention. It is suggested that the cognitive effort involved in analyzing and adopting theatrical characters' motivations (and then experiencing those characters' mental/emotional states during performance) is responsible for the observed improvement. A secondary strand of this study showed that participants who were given annotated scripts in which the implied goals of the characters were made explicit demonstrated significantly faster access to the stored material, as measured by a computer latency task. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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