An Investigation into the Affects of Healthy Adult Aging and Interruptions on Multitasking Abilities
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James, Vairi A. W.
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1. Abstract Multitasking is an incredibly important skill which most of us use everyday, often without conscious effort. Patients with frontal lobe damage have been shown to have deficits in multitasking abilities despite having normal IQ’s and fairly intact executive functioning. It is thought that the frontal lobes deteriorate in healthy adult aging, therefore, there is a possibility that multitasking abilities will also be impaired in older adults. This study investigated the effects of healthy adult aging with a test of multitasking involving 4 subtasks which are to be attempted within ten minutes with the goal of scoring as many points as possible. 10 young (aged 18-35) adults and 10 older (aged 60-80) adults were tested. There was a significant difference (p<.001) in the number of points scored on the multitasking test between the young and old groups. In order to investigate the effect of an interruption on multitasking scores half of the participants in the young group and half of the participants in the old group were interrupted 7 minutes into the test. There was no significant effect of the interruption on the multitasking scores. In the older adults there was a pattern in the means of the interruption group (M=112.40, SD=17.126) having higher multitasking scores than the uninterrupted groups (M=75.75, SD=23.599). This result may have been significant with a larger sample size. Implications and ideas for future research are discussed.