Paper-Based Assessment of the Effects of Aging on Response Time: A Diffusion Model Analysis

  • Dirk J
  • Kratzsch G
  • Prindle J
  • et al.
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In this chapter we will present theoretical approaches that provide such explanations and will argue that such approaches work best if they treat response speed as one dependent variable characterizing cognitive performance among other aspects of performance, like accuracy and variability of reaction times (RT). To this end, we first selectively review findings that establish central aspects of cognitive slowing as a phenomenon. Before moving to attempts to explain this phenomenon, we present and discuss theoretical approaches that treat cognitive slowing itself as an explanatory construct for age-related declines in other cognitive abilities, like fluid intelligence. These attempts will be criticized for three major reasons: (a) processing speed not being a unitary construct, (b) cognitive slowing not being a homogeneous phenomenon, and (c) methodological issues with statistical approaches to establish the causal role of processing speed for the aging of other cognitive abilities. We continue by introducing age differences in intraindividual variability in RTs, or more generally shapes of RT distributions, as additional aspects beyond mean RTs to be accounted for by theories of cognitive slowing, and show how an approach based on models from mathematical psychology, the diffusion model (Ratcliff, 1978), can be used to express individual and age differences in terms of meaningful processing parameters. We close with reviewing theoretical approaches to explain the neurobiological changes underlying cognitive slowing and attempts to improve processing speed with practice and training. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)




Dirk, J., Kratzsch, G. K., Prindle, J. P., Kröhne, U., Goldhammer, F., & Schmiedek, F. (2017). Paper-Based Assessment of the Effects of Aging on Response Time: A Diffusion Model Analysis. Journal of Intelligence, 5(4), 12.

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