- Impaired acquisition of goal-directed action in healthy aging
- Cognitive Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience
- Volume | Issue number
- 14 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
According to dual-system theories, instrumental learning is supported by dissociable goal-directed and habitual systems. Previous investigations of the dual-system balance in healthy aging have yielded mixed results. To further investigate this issue, we compared performance of young (17-24 years) and older (69-84 years) adults on an instrumental learning task. Following the initial learning phase, the behavioral autonomy of the motivational significance of the instrumental outcome was assessed with an outcome-devaluation test and slips-of-action test. The present study provides evidence for a disrupted dual-system balance in healthy aging, as reflected in reduced outcome-induced conflict during acquisition, as well as in impaired performance during the test stage, during which participants had to flexibly adjust their actions to changes in the current desirability of the behavioral outcome. These findings will be discussed in relation to previous aging studies into habitual and goal-directed control, as well as other cognitive impairments, challenges that older adults may face in everyday life, and to the neurobiological basis of the developmental pattern of goal-directed action across the lifespan.
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