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Brain Cogn. 2004 Dec;56(3):320-7.

Inconsistency in serial choice decision and motor reaction times dissociate in younger and older adults.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, London, United Kingdom.


Intraindividual variability (inconsistency) in reaction time (RT) latencies was investigated in a group of younger (M=25.46 years) and older (M=69.29 years) men. Both groups performed 300 trials in 2-, 4-, and 8-choice RT conditions where RTs for decision and motor components of the task were recorded separately. A dissociation was evident in that inconsistency was greater in older adults for decision RTs when task demands relating to the number of choices and fatigue arising from time-on-task were high. For younger persons, a weak trend toward greater inconsistency in motor RTs was evident. The results are consistent with accounts suggesting that inconsistency in neurobiological mechanisms increases with age, and that attentional lapses or fluctuations in executive control contribute to RT inconsistency.

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