Training for Attentional Control in Dual Task Settings: A Comparison of Young and Old Adults


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Abstract

The authors examined whether the learning and performance of dual tasks by young and old adults could be enhanced through training. Adults were trained with either a fixed-priority or variable-priority training strategy on a monitoring task and an alphabet–arithmetic task and then transferred to a scheduling and a paired-associates running memory task. Participants in the variable-priority condition learned the monitoring and alphabet–arithmetic tasks more quickly and achieved a higher level of mastery on these tasks than did those in the fixed-priority condition. Moreover, participants trained with the variable-priority technique showed evidence of the development of automatic processing and a more rapid rate of learning and higher level of mastery of the transfer tasks than did the fixed-priority participants. These results are discussed in terms of the mechanisms that underlie learning and performance of dual tasks and with respect to potential applications.

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