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Cognitive Aging and Multiple-Task Performance

In this project, the psychological refractory period (PRP) procedure and adaptive executive control (AEC) models are used to investigate age differences in multiple-task performance. Past research has shown that age effects in any situation where attention is divided, or the subject has to do two or more tasks at once, are usually large and robust. The theories offered to explain this age effect include generalized slowing, declining working memory resources, and deficits in executive control of task processing.

The results of these experiments, interpreted with the AEC models and EPIC architecture, showed that the ability to coordinate and overlap the processing of two tsks did not decline with age, although the reaction-time cost associated with dual tasks was greater fot the older adults. Three sources for this increase in dual-task cost were foung. Older adults have longer cognitive processing times (generalized slowing), longer perceptual identification times, and use slightly different task-coordination strategies than young subjects. The results suggest that understanding the performance of older adults requires an understanding of potential dual-task strategies that are combined with (and may be the result of) slowed processing.

  • Meyer, D. E., Glass, J. M., Mueller, S. T., Seymour, T. L., & Kieras, D.E.(2001).Executive-process interactive control A unified computational theory for answering twenty questions (and more) about cognitive aging. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 13(1-2), 123-164.

  • Glass, J. M., Schumacher, E. H., Lauber, E. J., Zurbriigen, E. L., Gmeindl, L., Kieras, D. E., & Meyer, D. E. (2000). Aging and the Psychological Refractory Period: Task-Coordination Strategies in Young and Old Adults. Psychology and Aging, 15, 571-595.

  • Mueller, S. T., Seymour, T. L., Glass, J., Kieras, D., & Meyer, D. (2000). Components of Cognitive Control in Verbal Working Memory Revealed by Computational Modeling with the Executive-Process Interactive-Control (EPIC) Architecture Poster Presented at the Cognitive Aging Conference, 2000.

  • Glass, J. M., Seymour, T. L., Schumacher, E. H., Gmeindl, L., Meyer, D. E., & Kieras, D. E. (1998). Cognitive aging and task-coordination strategies for dual-task performance Poster presented at the Psychonomics Conference, 1998.

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