learning, aging, & cognitive ergonomics lab

Current Research

Cognitive Training
The idea that mental exercise can improve cognitive ability into old age is currently popular. However, some studies find this effect and others do not. Exactly what type of "mental exercise" shows an effect and what types are just marketing and hype? The LACElab is currently working to identify whether active engagement and presence in a task or environment could be one type of exercise to improve cognition. This work is in collaboration with Maribeth Gandy Coleman, a Senior Research Scientist at the Georgia Tech Interactive Media and Technology Center and Dr. Jason Allaire of the Cognitive Aging in Context Lab at NCSU.

As we are interested in how interaction with technology can produce changes in ability, we are investigating what characteristics must be present in games or other cognitive exercises. In this project, we will produce guidelines for technology to improve the cognitive abilities of older adults.

This work is funded by the National Science Foundataion and a detailed description of current experiments can be found at our Gains Through Gaming Lab website.
Allaire, J. C., McLaughlin, A. C., Trujillo, A., Whitlock, L. A., LaPorte, L. D., & Gandy, M. (2013). Successful aging through digital games: Socioemotional differences between older adult gamers and non-gamers. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), 1302-1306.
Levy, L. M., Gandy, M., Solomon, R., McLaughlin, A. C., Allaire, J. C. & Whitlock, L. A. (2012). Fear of failure: Gender differences in older adult gamers. Proceedings of the 2012 ACM Foundations of Digital Games Conference.
Sparks, L., & McLaughlin, A. C. (May, 2012). How older adults' expression of stereotype threat relates to video game performance. Association for Psychological Science Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
McLaughlin, A. C., Gandy, M., Allaire, J. C., & Whitlock, L. A. (2012). Putting fun into video games for older adults. Ergonomics in Design: The Quarterly of Human Factors Applications, 20, 13-22.
Whitlock, L. A., McLaughlin, A. C., & Allaire, J. C. (2012). Individual differences in response to cognitive training: Using a multi-modal, attentionally demanding game-based intervention. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(4), 1091-1096.
Whitlock, L. A., McLaughlin, A. C., & Allaire, J. C. (2011). Video games design for older adults: usability observations from an intervention study. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 55th Annual Meeting (pp. 187-191). Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Allaire, J. C. & McLaughlin, A. C. (April, 2010). All your base are belong to boomers. Triangle Games Conference, Raleigh, NC.
McLaughlin, A. C. (March, 2010). Cognitive training for older adults: It won’t be easy but it can be fun. Future of Gaming Colloquim Series, NCSU, Raleigh, NC.
Whitlock, L. A. & McLaughlin, A. C., & Allaire, J. C. (2010). Training requirements of a video game-based cognitive intervention for older adults: Lessons learned. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 54th Annual Meeting (pp. 2343-2346). Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Whitlock, L. A. & McLaughlin, A. C. (April 2010). Willingness of older adults to learn a complex interface for a perceived benefit. Thirteenth Cognitive Aging Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Whitlock, L. A. & McLaughlin, A. C. (2009). The Role of effortful attention in effective spatial training. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 53rd Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
NSF Award Information
Safety
Our short term goals include providing the community with a comprehensive resource for agricultural population variables and accident data. We also aim to catagorize potential risk situations to discover what types of risk may be ameliorated via adaptive training and smart warning systems. Accomplishing these two goals will allow us to develop and test an individualized smart warning system.

Our long term goal is to develop a process by which effective smart warning systems may be developed a priori then refined by user testing. Currently no such process exists. This process may be fitted to multiple contexts that are similar to the agricultural risk environment, such as automobiles and other multi-task scenarios. We have already extended our accident analyses to rockclimbing, an unregulated leisure sport and are currently investigating safegy in healthcare via studies of hand hygiene.
McLaughlin, A. C., Walsh, F., & Bryant, M. (2013). Effects of knowledge and internal locus of control in groups of health care workers judging likelihood of pathogen transfer. Human Factors, 55(4), 803-814.
Sprufera, J. F. & McLaughlin, A. C. (2012). A process for accident analysis in an unregulated context: Adapting the Human Factors Accident Classification System to rock climbing. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 56th Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
McLaughlin, A. C. & Mayhorn, C. B. (2014). Designing effective risk communications for older adults. Safety Science, 61, 59-65.
Mayhorn, C. B. & McLaughlin, A. C. (2014). Warning the world of extreme events: A global perspective on risk communication for natural and technological disaster. Safety Science, 61, 43-50.
McLaughlin, A. C., & Walsh, F. (2012). Self-reported reasons for hand-hygiene in three groups of healthcare workers. American Journal of Infection Control. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2011.08.014
McLaughlin, A. C. & Walsh, F. (2011). Individual differences in judgments of hygiene risk by healthcare workers. American Journal of Infection Control, 39(6), 456-463.
McLaughlin, A. C. & Mayhorn, C. M. (2011). Avoiding harm on the farm: human factors. Gerontechnology,10(1), 26-37.
McLaughlin, A. C. & Sprufera, J. F. (2011). Aging farmers are at high risk for injuries and fatalities: How human factors research and application can help. North Carolina Medical Journal, 72(6), 481-483.
McLaughlin, A. C., Fletcher, L. A., & Sprufera, J. (2009). The aging farmer: human factors research needs in agricultural work. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 53rd Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Motivation for Health Behaviors and Complex Cognition
Why do we so often know what we should do, yet not do it? Why do some people seek out challenging activities and others do not? What kinds of complex hobbies are pursued by adults over age sixty? How can technology be designed to motivate as well as assist? These are just a few of the questions we seek to answer in this line of research.
Bryant, M. R., & McLaughlin, A. C. (2012). Predicting and maintaining the challenge point through the study of individual differences. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 56th Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Tyree, R. M. & McLaughlin, A. C. (2012). Older adult engagement in activities: All motivations are not created equal. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 56th Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Whitlock, L. A. & McLaughlin, A. C. (2012). Usability of blood glucose tracking apps for older users. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 56th Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Optimal Feedback for Learning
The question of how to deliver feedback has been studied for many years, but results often conflict with one another. For example, some research suggests that the more feedback you can provide to a learner, the faster and more thoroughly they can absorb information. However, other research demonstrates that too much feedback becomes a crutch for performance, and the person never really learns the material or task. Not only does the answer to this question have direct application to how we train our teachers in the school system, it applies just as well to online courses and learning how to use computer programs.

Even if we did understand how much feedback to give a school-age learner, it is likely the answer would differ for older adult learners. Our research addresses these topics simultaneously: it is an attempt to develop a theory of learning through feedback for learners of all ages.
Kelley, C. M. & McLaughlin, A. C. (2012). Differences in feedback use for correct and incorrect responses. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 56th Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Kelley, C. M., & McLaughlin, A. C. (2011). Individual differences in the benefits of feedback for learning. Human Factors, 53(6), 581-583.
Kelley, C. M. & McLaughlin, A. C. (April 2010). Feedback support requirements for learning a cognitive task: The role of cognitive resources and task complexity. Thirteenth Cognitive Aging Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Kelley, C. M., & McLaughlin, A. C. (2009). Feedback specificity requirements for learning in younger and older adults: the role of cognitive resources and task demand. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 53rd Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Kelley, C. M. & McLaughlin, A. C. (2008). How individual differences and task load may affect feedback use when learning a new task. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 52nd Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
McLaughlin, A. C., Rogers, W. A., & Fisk, A. D. (2008). Feedback support for training: accounting for learner and task. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 52nd Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
McLaughlin, A. C., Rogers, W. A., & Fisk, A. D. (2006). A new framework for understanding the effects of feedback on learning: The controlled resource approach. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 50th Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
HCI
This work includes our investigation of automation, the match of input devices to displays, and interaction methods tailored to small screens.
Pak, R., McLaughlin, A. C., & Bass, B. (2014). A multi-level analysis of the effects of age and gender stereotypes on trust in anthropomorphic technology by younger and older adults. Ergonomics. DOI: 10.1080/00140139.2014.928750
McLaughlin, A. C., Rogers, W. A., & Fisk, A. D. (2009). Using direct and indirect input devices: Attention demands and age-related differences. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 16(1), 1-15.
McLaughlin, A. C., Rogers, W. A., & Fisk, A. D. (April 2010). Using direct and indirect input devices: attention demands and age-related differences. ACM conference on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) 2010, Atlanta, GA.
Luong, M. G. & McLaughlin, A. C. (2009). Bar Graphs and Small Screens: Mitigating Cognitive Load in Mobile Visualizations. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 53rd Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
McLaughlin, A. C., Rogers, W. A., Sierra, E. A. & Fisk, A. D. (2007) Optimizing instruction following behavior. Learning, Media, and Technology: Incorporating Education Communication & Information, 32(4), 381-405.
Rogers, W. A., Fisk, A. D., McLaughlin, A. C., & Pak, R. (2005). Touch a screen or turn a knob: Choosing the best device for the job. Human Factors, 2(18), 271-288.

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