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J Exp Psychol Gen. 1992 Mar;121(1):73-8.

General slowing alone cannot explain age-related search effects: reply to Cerella (1991)

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School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta 30332-0170.


Cerella (1991) has argued that the performance of older adults in the Fisk and Rogers (1991) study is a linear function of the performance of younger adults that is independent of task-specific cognitive requirements. We demonstrate that this is not the case. First, we show that the scatter plot analyses used by Cerella can hide the very task-specific age-related slowing they were designed to reveal. Second, we demonstrate that the percentage of variance explained by such analyses can be misleading. Third, we show that there are reliable differences across tasks in the parameters relating younger and older adults' performance. Finally, we argue that the general, task-independent proportionate slowing that Cerella suggested explains so much of the variance in age-related performance is actually an average slowing that is a function of a relatively small task-independent and a relatively large task-dependent factor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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