CE28 - Cognition, éducation, formation

Dual-task automaticity across the lifespan: fast is fine, but preparation is paramount – PreP

Submission summary

The PreP project deals with the attentional limitations that cause dual-task interference and the changes that occur across the entire lifespan. PreP aims at better understanding and “combatting” the prominent source of dual-task interference: the processing bottleneck that prevents central operations – such as selecting the appropriate action given the current stimulus – from operating on more than one task at a time (Pashler, 1994). The ambition of workpackage #1 “dual-tasking” is to test the new hypothesis that the central bottleneck stems primarily from a lack of preparation. The ambition of workpackage #2 “lifespan” is to determine whether and why, relative to young adults, preparation neglect accounts for increased dual-task interference in children and older adults. Our methodological approach will rely on the behavioral indicators we (Maquestiaux, Lyphout-Spitz, Ruthruff, & Arexis, 2020; Maquestiaux & Ruthruff, 2021) have developed to probe for dual-task automaticity (i.e., elimination of the central bottleneck), as well as on cognitive modeling of dual-task performance. We will also use a novel electrophysiological method that we are developing for directly tracking the time course of task preparation. The central hypothesis of PreP, inspired by recent advances in our lab, is that dual-task interference is primarily caused by a lack of preparation. The corollary is that boosting preparation should enable dual-task automaticity, even in children and in older adults. The PreP project should allow us to formulate a new cognitive model of dual-task automaticity, evaluate its reach across the entire lifespan, as well as to identify new ways to combat difficulties encountered at different ages in real-world multitasking situations.

Project coordination

François Maquestiaux (Maison des Sciences de l'Homme et de l'Environnement Claude Nicolas Ledoux)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


MSH-E Maison des Sciences de l'Homme et de l'Environnement Claude Nicolas Ledoux
Attention lab

Help of the ANR 364,804 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2022 - 48 Months

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