- Is the age-complexity effect mediated by reductions in a general processing resource?
- Biological Psychology
- Volume | Issue number
- 45 | 1-3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
The rate of information processing, as revealed in measures of reaction time, slows with advancing age and this slowing is most evident as processing complexity increases. This phenomenon, known as the Age-Complexity effect, has been attributed to general changes in the speed of processing that affect all components of processing indiscriminantly, both within and across tasks in a particular processing domain. That the slowing is thought to be task- and process-independent has led to the additional inference that it reflects reductions in a general processing resource. On the basis of converging evidence identified in a review of both behavioral and chronopsychophysiological studies, we argue that the slowing induced by older age is not generalized, but rather is both task-dependent and process-specific and, as such, cannot be explained in terms of a diminished general processing resource. We close by speculating that elements of the age-induced slowing can be interpreted within the context of the cognitive-energetical model.
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