Using a task switching paradigm, we investigated age effects on switch costs as a function of the number of sets to be switched. In Experiment 1, younger and older subjects determined a color or shape of an object presented on the computer screen, responding either by moving the joystick or by pressing a button on the joystick. The switch costs were assessed with differences between switch trials (task-set switch, response-set switch, and double switch) and non-switch trials. Contrary to the prediction that age would negatively influence performance on the double switch trials, age effects on switch costs were observed only for the single switch trials (i.e., response-set switch condition). Additionally, both younger and older adults were capable of preparing for task and response-set switches in parallel. In Experiment 2, we manipulated the time available to prepare for a task and response-set switch. Both younger and older adults were able to utilize extra time to reduce switch costs. Furthermore, the age deficit found in Experiment 1 for response-set switching was eliminated in the second experiment in which preparation for task and response-set switching was temporally decoupled. The data are discussed in terms of task component coordination across the adult lifespan.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Psychiatry and Mental health