I do quasi-experimental individual differences psychology research. I examine how people who differ in a cognitive ability (that I measure) perform on another task that always at least involves within-subject manipulations (and sometimes between-subject)–DVs are usually response time and/or accuracy. For this question I'd like to focus on response times (let's assume they are normally distributed). I then infer from the ability-task relations what it means theoretically for the cognitive ability. The nature of this work is correlational and involves repeated measures where each subject completes many task trials(mostly I’m not interested in changes over time, just the overall difference).
Researchers in my field often create categorical variables from the cognitive ability scores and compare the upper and lower quartiles of the distribution with a repeated-measures ANOVA. Because the cognitive ability is measured continuously, I am looking for an analytic strategy that treats the cognitive ability in this way. I’ve recently been investigating mixed-models, thinking that I can treat the people as a random effect grouping variable and the cognitive ability score as a random effect nested within people. I would like to examine interactions between this nested random effect (cognitive ability) and the fixed effects of the experimental treatments by doing model comparisons.
Does this seem like a reasonable analytic strategy? Am I thinking about this right? What are some other ways (the simpler, the better) that I can take advantage of repeated measures -remove experimental subject variance- while also maintaining the cognitive ability measure as a continuous measure? Any citations or examples in R are appreciated.
In a typical experiment, I would expect there to be anywhere from 1-3 categorical IVs with 2-4 levels(measured by multiple trials), and 1 continuous IV(cognitive ability). The exact nature of the categorical variables changes from study to study. The designs are fully crossed.