Interactions of stimulus consistency and response-set were examined after extensive consistent (CM) and varied mapping (VM) practice for young (mean age 20) and old (mean age 74) adults. The experiment examined whether reduced response complexity would lead to equivalent consistent mapping search performance across age groups. Subjects received 2,240 training trials each for CM and VM versions of a hybrid memory/visual search task. During training two response conditions were used: (1) respond only when a target was present (Yes-only responding) and (2) respond only when a target was absent (No-only responding). Following initial training, subjects were transferred to the opposite response condition. During training the function relating reaction time to memory-set size differed between age groups only with CM practice, replicating age-related effects previously found for extensive CM practice. Response reversal (e.g., Yes-only to No-only) after training led to age-related transfer effects for both CM and VM search. Importantly, the transfer data suggest age-dependent controlled processing effects.
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