An Exploration of Age Effects on a Memory plus Visuomotor Dual Task Paradigm
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Several studies have described a dual task deficit in patients with dementia, which does not occur in healthy ageing. Attempts to create a dual task suitable for clinical use have encountered various problems, and have led to the development of a dual task which employs a digit recall memory task concurrently with a visuomotor tapping task, using a specially designed Fitts’ Law Box. To explore the age effects associated with, and effectiveness of, this dual task, and to investigate its suitability for clinical use, 24 healthy elderly and 25 healthy young participants were assessed on two conditions using the dual task apparatus and several tests of executive function and memory. In contrast to previous dual task studies, a significant effect of age was found on both dual task conditions, as well as the measures of executive function and memory. These findings suggest that the dual task is unsuitable for clinical use. Possible explanations for these findings are discussed, along with suggestions of modifications for the Fitts’ Law Box.