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01-12-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2018 Open Access

Psychological Research 1/2018

Motor-cognitive dual-task performance: effects of a concurrent motor task on distinct components of visual processing capacity

Psychological Research > Uitgave 1/2018
E. C. S. Künstler, K. Finke, A. Günther, C. Klingner, O. Witte, P. Bublak


Dual tasking, or the simultaneous execution of two continuous tasks, is frequently associated with a performance decline that can be explained within a capacity sharing framework. In this study, we assessed the effects of a concurrent motor task on the efficiency of visual information uptake based on the ‘theory of visual attention’ (TVA). TVA provides parameter estimates reflecting distinct components of visual processing capacity: perceptual threshold, visual processing speed, and visual short-term memory (VSTM) storage capacity. Moreover, goodness-of-fit values and bootstrapping estimates were derived to test whether the TVA-model is validly applicable also under dual task conditions, and whether the robustness of parameter estimates is comparable in single- and dual-task conditions. 24 subjects of middle to higher age performed a continuous tapping task, and a visual processing task (whole report of briefly presented letter arrays) under both single- and dual-task conditions. Results suggest a decline of both visual processing capacity and VSTM storage capacity under dual-task conditions, while the perceptual threshold remained unaffected by a concurrent motor task. In addition, goodness-of-fit values and bootstrapping estimates support the notion that participants processed the visual task in a qualitatively comparable, although quantitatively less efficient way under dual-task conditions. The results support a capacity sharing account of motor-cognitive dual tasking and suggest that even performing a relatively simple motor task relies on central attentional capacity that is necessary for efficient visual information uptake.

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