Can Practice Overcome Age-Related Differences in the Psychological Refractory Period Effect?

Document Type



Psychology (Scripps)

Publication Date



Cognitive Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Can dual-task practice remove age-related differences in the psychological refractory period (PRP) effect? To answer this question, younger and older individuals practiced 7 blocks of a PRP design, in which Task 1 (T1) required a vocal response to an auditory stimulus and Task 2 (T2) required a manual response to a visual stimulus (Experiment 1). The results showed that practice did not reduce, but rather increased, age-related differences in PRP interference. Using the trained individuals, the introduction of a less complex new T1 (Experiment 2) or a less complex new T2 (Experiment 3) with the task previously practiced reduced the PRP interference but only in older adults. The authors propose that older adults suffer from a large task-switch cost that is more sensitive to task complexity than to the amount of practice.

Rights Information

© 2004 American Psychological Association

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.