Can practice overcome age-related differences in the psychological refractory period effect?

  • Maquestiaux F
  • Hartley A
  • Bertsch J
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Abstract

Can dual-task practice remove age-related differences in the psychological refractory period (PRP) effect? To answer this question, younger and older individuals practiced 7 blocks of a PRP design, in which Task 1 (T1) required a vocal response to an auditory stimulus and Task 2 (T2) required a manual response to a visual stimulus (Experiment 1). The results showed that practice did not reduce, but rather increased, age-related differences in PRP interference. Using the trained individuals, the introduction of a less complex new T1 (Experiment 2) or a less complex new T2 (Experiment 3) with the task previously practiced reduced the PRP interference but only in older adults. The authors propose that older adults suffer from a large task-switch cost that is more sensitive to task complexity than to the amount of practice.

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Authors

  • François Maquestiaux

  • Alan A. Hartley

  • Jean Bertsch

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