The relationship between dual-tasking and processing speed in healthy aging

Georgette Argiris, Sarah E. MacPherson, Sergio Della Sala, Jennifer Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although studies report age-related declines on tests of executive function, not all executive tests show age differences, including the dual task paradigm. As processing speed is known to decline with age, it is possible that changes in speed contribute to the variation in age-related decline found on different tests of executive function. In this study, the effects of age and processing speed on different executive tests in the same group of younger and older adults were investigated. Fifty-nine (28 males, 31 females) younger adults (Mage= 21.49; SD = 2.54) and 52 (22 males, 30 females) older adults (Mage = 72.04; SD = 4.99) were assessed on a battery of measures: processing speed and the executive functions of dual tasking, inhibition, set-shifting and updating. Older adults performed significantly worse than younger adults on all tests except dual tasking. In addition, age, rather than processing speed, predicted performance on the inhibition, set-shifting and updating tests. These findings confirm that dual tasking does not decline with age and the age differences found on tests of inhibition, set-shifting and updating are not simply explained by processing speed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-389
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology and Neuroscience
Issue number3
Early online date31 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • healthy aging
  • dual tasking
  • processing speed
  • executive function


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