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Front Hum Neurosci. 2012 May 18;6:129. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00129. eCollection 2012.

An investigation of response and stimulus modality transfer effects after dual-task training in younger and older.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal Montréal, QC, Canada.


It has been shown that dual-task training leads to significant improvement in dual-task performance in younger and older adults. However, the extent to which training benefits to untrained tasks requires further investigation. The present study assessed (a) whether dual-task training leads to cross-modality transfer in untrained tasks using new stimuli and/or motor responses modalities, (b) whether transfer effects are related to improved ability to prepare and maintain multiple task-set and/or enhanced response coordination, (c) whether there are age-related differences in transfer effects. Twenty-three younger and 23 older adults were randomly assigned to dual-task training or control conditions. All participants were assessed before and after training on three dual-task transfer conditions; (1) stimulus modality transfer (2) response modality transfer (3) stimulus and response modalities transfer task. Training group showed larger improvement than the control group in the three transfer dual-task conditions, which suggests that training leads to more than specific learning of stimuli/response associations. Attentional costs analyses showed that training led to improved dual-task cost, only in conditions that involved new stimuli or response modalities, but not both. Moreover, training did not lead to a reduced task-set cost in the transfer conditions, which suggests some limitations in transfer effects that can be expected. Overall, the present study supports the notion that cognitive plasticity for attentional control is preserved in late adulthood.


aging; cognitive plasticity; cognitive training; divided attention; executive function; transfer

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