Lapses of intention and performance variability reveal age-related increases in fluctuations of executive control

  • West R
  • Murphy K
  • Armilio M
 et al. 
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Abstract

We examine the hypothesis that the efficiency of executive control processes is less stable over time in older than younger adults. An age-related decrease in the efficiency of executive control should result in an increase in performance variability in task conditions requiring the recruitment of executive control processes and not in task conditions requiring minimal involvement of executive control. Performance variability was similar for younger and older adults in task conditions requiring minimal executive control and greater for older than younger adults in task conditions requiring executive control. These and other data are consistent with the proposal that aging is associated with a decrease in the stability of executive control over time. © 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aging
  • Executive control
  • Performance variability
  • Response time distribution
  • Working memory

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