No Evidence for Task Automatization After Dual-Task Training in Younger and Older Adults

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Abstract

The present study investigated the ability of older adults in contrast to younger adults to automatize new choice tasks as a result of simultaneous dual-task practice. Importantly, the study was carried out in conditions optimal for dual-task performance and task automatization. Despite this, the results of detailed analyses were not consistent with the assumption that either older or younger adults are able to automatize new choice tasks; neither group showed evidence of automatization. Even in analyses focusing on high dual-task performers (i.e., individuals who performed equally well in single and dual tasks) the results were not consistent with this assumption. Instead, it seems to be the case that both older and younger adults continue to use capacity-limited processes to process choice tasks after dual-task practice. These conclusions are consistent with findings from studies using single-task practice and tests of task automatization in dual tasks (Maquestiaux, Laguë-Beauvais, Ruthruff, Hartley, & Bherer, 2010; Maquestiaux, Didierjean, Ruthruff, Chauvel, & Hartley, 2013).

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