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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 1/2018

17-06-2017 | Original Article

Movement timing and cognitive control: adult-age differences in multi-tasking

Auteurs: Anne-Merel Meijer, Ralf T. Krampe

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 1/2018

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Abstract

Over the course of six sessions, 24 young (M = 19.40 years, SD 1.61) and 24 older participants (M = 71.48 years, SD 3.86) performed simple, repetitive tapping tasks at 300 and 600 ms target durations concurrently with two cognitive tasks under non-switch or switch conditions. Despite substantial improvements, over sessions, reliable switch costs remained, which were pronounced in older adults. Young and older adults alike showed increased drift in the tapping tasks under dual-task conditions. Under dual-task non-switch conditions, older adults maintained the same timing accuracy (variability) as in the single-task condition. However, variability increased when concurrent cognitive task-set switching was required, while young adults even improved timing accuracy relative to the single-task condition. Being at odds with extant models of timing, our findings demonstrate that control of simple repetitive movements is far from automatic even at intervals below 1 s. Interference with timing in older adults is not caused by multi-tasking per se, but depends on the cognitive control demands of the concurrent task. We argue that our findings suggest a critical role of cognitive control processes for the maintenance of representations of target durations during interval production. This hypothesis received further support from patterns of local interference in the timing of individual intervals.
Voetnoten
1
For analysis of timing performance, we only used the trials (of the first ten that were used for the cognitive task) that had correct cognitive task performance. This is a very conservative method in the sense that it does filter out all trials with performance decrements in the cognitive task that may have been caused by the dual-tasking. Cognitive task performance got better over the phases and was higher in young than in older adults, so we filtered out relatively more trials in the first phase and in the older adults and those trials were most likely to show decrements in timing as well. Repeating the same analysis with the incorrect cognitive task performance trials included as well yielded very similar results to our initial analysis. The only difference in results was that in this new analysis two additional significant interactions showed up in the analysis of the detrended SD coefficient, namely task contrast (1) by tempo and age group by phase contrast (2). This finding supports our prediction that we used a rather conservative method for the analysis of our timing data.
 
2
The only other significant effect in this analysis was the interaction between the task (1) contrast (single vs dual), target duration, and the phase (2) contrast (changes between the second and the last testing phase), F(1, 46) = 10.91, p = 0.002, ŋ 2  = 0.192. In the 600 ms condition, reduction in drift with practice was larger in the dual (∆M = −0.05, SD 0.14, t(47) = 2.293, p = 0.026) compared with single-task conditions (∆M = 0.06, SD 0.03, t(47) = 2.088, p = 0.042), whereas no practice effects were found for drift in the 300 ms condition.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Movement timing and cognitive control: adult-age differences in multi-tasking
Auteurs
Anne-Merel Meijer
Ralf T. Krampe
Publicatiedatum
17-06-2017
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 1/2018
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-017-0876-4