- Response-specific slowing in older age revealed through differential stimulus and response effects on P300 latency and reaction time
- Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
- Volume | Issue number
- 21 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Older age produces numerous changes in cognitive processes, including slowing in the rate of mental processing speed. There has been controversy over the past three decades about whether this slowing is generalized or process-specific. A growing literature indicates that it is process-specific and suggests it is most dramatic at the interface where a stimulus input is translated into a response output. We tested this hypothesis using a task in which young and older adult males made either compatible or incompatible responses to the word LEFT or RIGHT shown briefly and variously located in a 4 row × 6 column matrix surrounded by # signs or by letters chosen randomly from the sets A-G or A-Z. Processing speed was measured using P300 latency and reaction time. Experimental effects on these two measures provided support for the hypothesis in revealing that stimulus identification processes were preserved, whereas processes related to translating a stimulus input into a designated response output and then selecting that response were compromised in the elderly.
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