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Measuring the Mind: Speed, control, and age$
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John Duncan, Louise Phillips, and Peter McLeod

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198566427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198566427.001.0001

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Inconsistency in response time as an indicator of cognitive aging

Inconsistency in response time as an indicator of cognitive aging

Chapter:
(p.33) Chapter 2 Inconsistency in response time as an indicator of cognitive aging
Source:
Measuring the Mind: Speed, control, and age
Author(s):

David F. Hultsch

Michael A. Hunter

Stuart W. S. MacDonald

Esther Strauss

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198566427.003.0002

This chapter considers the proposition that intraindividual variability in speed of performance is a useful indicator of cognitive ageing. It reviews recent research that examines both group differences and longitudinal changes in performance inconsistency on reaction-time tasks. The chapter suggests that: (a) greater inconsistency in physical and cognitive performance is observed for older compared with younger adults; (b) greater inconsistency is observed for individuals with neurological disorders; (c) there are consistent and stable individual differences in inconsistency across tasks and time intervals, respectively; (d) there are cross-domain links between inconsistency on cognitive tasks and both level and variability of physical performance; (e) greater inconsistency is associated with poorer levels of performance on cognitive tasks and measures of intelligence; (f) greater inconsistency is associated with proximity to death; and (g) inconsistency increases with age. It concludes that measures of intraindividual variability may be plausible behavioural indicators of cognitive ageing.

Keywords:   ageing, reaction time, neurological disorders, cognitive tasks, intelligence, intraindividual variability

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