Cognitive and neural practice-related changes in the ability to coordinate two tasks II

Executive processes are required to coordinate the processing stages in dual-task situations. It is often assumed that executive processes control the temporal scheduling of potentially interfering processing stages. As a result of this scheduling, dual-task costs, e.g., an increase in processing time or errors during the simultaneous processing of two tasks compared to the processing of the single component tasks, can be observed. Some recent results indicate that dual-task costs may disappear after prolonged dual-task practice.

One main goal of the current project is to specify the nature of the learning processes leading to the disappearance of dual-task costs. What exactly is it that is learned during repeated dual-task performance? That is, which kind of executive knowledge enables participants to perform the tasks without any dual-task costs? Two different hypotheses have been proposed that are addressed experimentally in the proposed project.

According to the first hypothesis, participants acquire general executive knowledge on how to perfectly coordinate (i.e., without any costs) the simultaneous processing of two tasks. According to the second hypothesis, participants improve the performance of the single component tasks. That is, component-task processing is automatized allowing the system to perform two tasks simultaneously without any interference.

Our second main goal in the context of the present research project is to examine whether or not the disappearance of dual-task costs that occurs with prolonged task practice is accompanied by a re-organization of the involved neural structures. For that purpose, functional magnetic resonance and EEG will be applied to investigate the neural implementation of dual-task processing at the beginning and at the end of a prolonged period of task practice.

Principal investigators
Schubert, Torsten Prof. Dr. rer. nat. (Details) (General Psychology)

DFG: Sachbeihilfe

Duration of project
Start date: 11/2003
End date: 05/2007

Last updated on 2022-07-09 at 23:05