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01-11-2014 | Review | Uitgave 6/2014

Psychological Research 6/2014

Practice-related optimization and transfer of executive functions: a general review and a specific realization of their mechanisms in dual tasks

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research > Uitgave 6/2014
Auteurs:
Tilo Strobach, Tiina Salminen, Julia Karbach, Torsten Schubert

Abstract

Improvements in performing demanding and complex task situations are typically related to the optimization of executive functions and efficient behavioral control. The present study systematizes and reviews the optimization of different executive function types: Shifting, Inhibition, Updating, and Dual tasking. In particular, we focus on optimisations of these functions with training and on transfer effects of related training skills to non-trained situations. The aim of the study’s empirical part (see also Appendix) was to investigate the specific mechanisms of executive functions in the context of Dual tasking, leading to improved dual-task performance after practice. More specifically, we tested the Efficient Task Instantiation (ETI) model that includes specific assumptions regarding practice-related improvements of executive task coordination skills: Dual-task performance is improved with practice because of an efficient and conjoint instantiation of sets of relevant task information in working memory at the onset of a dual task. According to our knowledge, the ETI model is one of the first that allows illustrating the contribution of cognitive mechanisms underlying practice-related improvements in performing dual tasks and the impact of task coordination skills on this performance.

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