Understanding Individual Behaviour

Sub study details

Dates March 2010 to June 2010
Age 52
Respondents Cohort members
Response 45
Survey mode Face to face
Data access

Dataset available via the UK Data Service [SN 6752]. Visit the UK Data Service website to access the data.


A pilot study completed by an inter-disciplinary network of researchers as part of the ESRC’s Understanding Individual Behaviour programme. The network’s core aim was to explore individual differences in mid-life cognitive capacity and how these relate to experiences and behaviour earlier in life.

The pilot study was conducted with a sub-sample of NCDS members living in and around Cambridge in 2010, when study members were aged 52, and sought to investigate the potential for conducting neuro-psychological assessments with purposive sub-samples from the British Birth Cohort Studies. The aim was to recruit individuals with particular cognitive ability trajectories between childhood and mid-adulthood:

Decline group: Those whose performance in the cognitive assessments completed at age 50 was poorer than would have been predicted from their childhood cognitive ability as measured at age 11.

Consistent high scorer group: This group were matched to the decline group on childhood cognitive ability level, but did not exhibit any signs of decline.

Consistent low scorer group: This group were matched to the experimental group on their age 50 cognitive ability, but had different cognitive ability levels in childhood (most likely having low cognitive ability throughout their lives).

Potential participants were invited to a research centre at the University of Cambridge to complete a 90 minute testing session which involved three main elements:

  • Repetition of the cognitive assessments included in the NCDS age 50 survey: a) Word-list recall/delayed word-list recall b) Animal naming c) Letter cancellation
  • Five CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery) tasks: a) Paired Associates Learning test (PAL) – a visuospatial associative learning test which assesses visual memory and new learning; b) Graded Naming Test (GNT) – a test of semantic and/or verbal memory; c) Affective Go/No-go(AGN) – a test of affective decision making and information processing biases; d) Cambridge Gambling Task (CGT) – a test of decision making and risk taking; and e) Rapid Visual Information Processing (RVP) – a test of attention and general information processing.
  • A short self-completion questionnaire.
Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL

Email: clsfeedback@ucl.ac.uk