Multitasking of young and older adults in ecologically valid scenarios

Uwe Drescher, Otmar Leo Bock, Claudia Voelcker-Rehage

Publication: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution - Published abstract for conference with selection processResearchpeer-review


Introduction: Many daily and sports activities rely on our ability to perform multiple motor and cognitive tasks concurrently, e.g., when driving a car. Multitasking skills have been shown to decrease with advancing age, however (e.g., Verhaegen et al, 2003). Therefore, it is important to better understand age-related decay of multitasking and cognitive skills. As it is proposed that executive functions (EF) might contribute towards multitasking, particularly in old age (Baddeley, 1986), we investigate the influence of the partitioned EF systems’components (task switching, memory updating, response inhibition (Miyake et al, 2000) and dual tasking (Strobach et al, 2014)) in multitasking situations. Moreover, performance in laboratory settings seems to differ from performance in everyday life (Bock & Züll, 2013). Thus, we further aim to investigate age-related differences in multitasking skills in (virtual) realistic scenarios. Methods: Executive functions (EF: updating, inhibition, task shifting, dual-tasking) of young (20-30 years, n = 20) and older (65-75 years, n = 20) adults will be assessed with standardized laboratory tests. In addition, participants’ multitasking skills in natural scenarios will be assessed by use of two virtual-reality (VR) tasks (simulated street crossing (SC) and car driving (CD)) combined with a battery of realistic loading tasks that draw on participants’ working memory, perceptual search, reasoning and movement planning. Data are currently collected. Results: Age-related differences in the influence of EF on multitasking performance (SC and CD task) will be 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 (e.g. Baltes & Lindenberger, 1997). Discussion: As multitasking performance might be influenced by EF, a training aiming at improving EF would be beneficial to improve Multitasking performance, particularly in older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication48. Jahrestagung der ASP - Spitzenleistungen und Sportpsychologie: Der Weg zu Olympia : 48. Jahrestagung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Sportpsychologie (asp) vom 05. bis 07. Mai 2016 in Münster
Number of pages1
PublisherArbeitsgemeinschaft für Sportpsychologie
Publication date05.05.2016
Publication statusPublished - 05.05.2016
EventSpitzenleistungen und Sportpsychologie: Der Weg zu Olympia 48. Jahrestagung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Sportpsychologie (asp) - Münster, Germany
Duration: 05.05.201607.05.2016
Conference number: 48


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