Training older adults on Theory of Mind (ToM): Transfer on metamemory.

Archives of gerontology and geriatrics

PubMedID: 25456890

Lecce S, Bottiroli S, Bianco F, Rosi A, Cavallini E. Training older adults on Theory of Mind (ToM): Transfer on metamemory. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2014;.
Research on aging has shown a significant decline in ToM after 65 years of age. Despite these age-related difficulties, no study has yet investigated the possibility to improve ToM in older adults. To address this gap we tested the efficacy of a conversation-based ToM training with age-appropriate ToM tasks and its transfer effects on metamemory.

We examined 72 older adults (Mage=67.61 years, SD=6.39 years) assigned to three training conditions: a ToM training, a physical-conversation training and a social-contact group. All participants took part in two 2-h testing and to two 2-h training sessions.

Results showed that after the intervention, older adults in the ToM training group improved their mental states' understanding significantly more than participants in the physical-conversation training and in the social-contact groups. Crucially, the positive effect of the ToM intervention generalized to metamemory knowledge.

This is the first study investigating the efficacy of a ToM training and its transfer effect on metacognition in older adults. From a theoretical point of view, it supports the relation between ToM and metamemory. Practical implications of these data are discussed.