Training effects on dual-task performance: Are there age-related differences in plasticity of attentional control?

  • Bherer L
  • Peterson M
  • Kramer A
 et al. 
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Abstract

A number of studies have suggested that attentional control skills required to perform 2 tasks concurrently become impaired with age (A. A. Hartley, 1992; J. M. McDowd & R. J. Shaw, 2000). A. A. Hartley (2001) recently observed that the age-related differences in dual-task performance were larger when the 2 tasks required similar motor responses. The present study examined the extent to which age-related deficits in dual-task performance or time sharing--in particular, dual-task performance of 2 discrimination tasks with similar motor requirements--can be moderated by training. The results indicate that, even when the 2 tasks required similar motor responses, both older and younger adults could learn to perform the tasks faster and more accurately. Moreover, the improvement in performance generalized to new task combinations involving new stimuli. Therefore, it appears that training can substantially improve dual-task processing skills in older adults.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aging
  • Attentional control
  • Cognitive plasticity

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Authors

  • Louis Bherer

  • Matthew S. Peterson

  • Arthur F. Kramer

  • Stanley Colcombe

  • Kirk Erickson

  • Ensar Becic

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