Modeling Aging Effects on Two-Choice Tasks: Response Signal and Response Time Data

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In the response signal paradigm, a test stimulus is presented, and then at one of a number of experimenter-determined times, a signal to respond is presented. Response signal, standard response time (RT), and accuracy data were collected from 19 college-age and 19 60- to 75-year-old participants in a numerosity discrimination task. The data were fit with 2 versions of the diffusion model. Response signal data were modeled by assuming a mixture of processes, those that have terminated before the signal and those that have not terminated; in the latter case, decisions are based on either partial information or guessing. The effects of aging on performance in the regular RT task were explained the same way in the models, with a 70- to 100-ms increase in the nondecision component of processing, more conservative decision criteria, and more variability across trials in drift and the nondecision component of processing, but little difference in drift rate (evidence). In the response signal task, the primary reason for a slower rise in the response signal functions for older participants was variability in the nondecision component of processing. Overall, the results were consistent with earlier fits of the diffusion model to the standard RT task for college-age participants and to the data from aging studies using this task in the standard RT procedure.

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