Academic Commons

Articles

Age-Based Differences in Task Switching Are Moderated by Executive Control Demands

Eich, Teal S.; Mackay-Brandt, Anna; Stern, Yaakov; Gopher, Daniel

OBJECTIVES: Recent work has identified different aspects of executive function that may underlie cognitive changes associated with age. The current study used a multifactorial design to investigate age sensitivity in the ability to shift between different task sets and the interaction of this ability with several specific aspects of executive control. METHOD: A large, well-characterized sample of younger (n = 40) and clinically healthy older (n = 51) adults completed a task switching paradigm in which 3 aspects of executive control were manipulated between subjects: a) sensorimotor demand (the number of distinct stimulus-response options); b) stimulus-level interference (i.e., flanker effects); and c) updating/monitoring (the frequency of task switches). RESULTS: Unique age-related deficits were observed for different aspects of local task switching performance costs and updating/monitoring, but not for interference. Sensorimotor demand was also an important additional factor that interacted with task switching performance. DISCUSSION: Our findings suggest that task switching, coupled with infrequent and unexpected transitions from one task set to another, in the context of high motoric demands, is particularly difficult for older adults.

Files

  • thumnail for Age-Based Differences in Task Switching.pdf Age-Based Differences in Task Switching.pdf application/pdf 252 KB Download File

Also Published In

Title
The Journals of Gerontology: Series B
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbw117

More About This Work

Academic Units
Neurology
Published Here
February 22, 2018
Academic Commons provides global access to research and scholarship produced at Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary. Academic Commons is managed by the Columbia University Libraries.