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Effects of Aging and the Development of Automatic and Controlled Skills in Driving.

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Final rept.,

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The magnitude of age effects in single- 2nd dual-tasks may be affected by the degree to which the tasks require automatic or controlled processing Hasher and Sacks, 1979 and whether skills of older subjects are familiar and developed before old age or novel and developed during the experiment Fisk, McGee and Giambra, 1988. In addition, age-effects may be affected by emergent dual-task characteristics Korteling, 1991, 1992, and by overall task complexity CompLexity hypothesis e.g., McDowd and Craik, 1988. Effects of the first three task variables were addressed in an experiment, in which experienced subjects performed a vehicle steering task automatic processing and a car following task controlled processing in a driving simulator. The controlled task was performed under two conditions of Novelty. In one condition, the gas pedal functioned normally skill development before old age, while in the other condition it functioned in an inverted way. This implies that the subjects only practiced this latter task condition during the experiment skill development after old age. In dual-task performance, difficulty of both subtasks was constant or variable. In the latter case, subtask difficulty alternated in counterphase. The single-task results indicated that the older subjects performed poorer than their younger counterparts only in the car following task, with an invertedly functioning gas pedal. Also in dual- task performance, an age-effect was found when this controlled task was performed with inverted gas pedal functioning. Age, Perceptual-motor skills, Task complexity, Vehicle driving.

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  • Anatomy and Physiology

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