Multitasking of young and older adults in ecologically valid scenarios- the association with executive functions

Christin Janouch, Uwe Drescher, Otmar Leo Bock, Claudia Voelcker-Rehage

Publikation: Beitrag in Buch/Bericht/KonferenzbandKonferenzbeitrag - Abstract in KonferenzbandForschungBegutachtung


Many daily and sports activities rely on our ability to perform multiple motor and cognitive tasks concurrently, e.g., when driving a car while using the car’s navigation system. Multitasking skills have been shown to decrease with advancing age (e.g., Verhaegen et al., 2003). The underlying mechanisms and interplay between cognitive and motor decline are, however, still unclear. It is proposed that executive functions (EF) might contribute towards multitasking, particularly in old age (Baddeley, 1986). Thus, first, we investigated the association between the partitioned EF systems’ components (task switching, memory updating, response inhibition (Miyake et al., 2000) and dual-tasking (Strobach et al., 2014)) and the performance in multitasking situations. Moreover, performance in laboratory settings seems to differ from performance in everyday life (Bock & Züll, 2013). Thus, we further aimed to investigate age-related differences in multitasking performance in realistic (virtual) scenarios, namely driving and street crossing. Therefore, executive functions of young (20-30 years) and older (65-75 years) adults are assessed with standardized laboratory tests (updating: spatial n-back task; inhibition: Simon task; task shifting: Geometric figure task; dual-tasking: visual tracking task with tone recognition). Multitasking skills in natural scenarios are assessed by use of two virtual-reality (VR) tasks (simulated street crossing and car driving) combined with a battery of realistic (cognitive) loading tasks that draw on participants’ working memory, reasoning and manual skills. Data are currently collected. We expect typical age-related differences in multitasking performance between young and older adults. Age-related differences in the influence of EF on multitasking performance (street crossing and driving task) are analyzed by regression analysis. We expect a moderate effect of EF on multitasking scores in the two VR scenarios. This effect should be stronger for older than for young participants, due to the age-related increase of cross-domain associations (Baltes & Lindenberger, 1997). The understanding of age-related decline in multitasking and the potential contribution of EFs will contribute to develop optimal training programs to improve multitasking performance, particularly in older adults.
TitelNeuroscience 2016
Herausgeber (Verlag)Society for Neuroscience
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 15.11.2016
VeranstaltungSociety for Neuroscience Annual Meeting - San Diego, USA/Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika
Dauer: 12.11.201616.11.2016
Konferenznummer: 46


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