SPP 1772: Human performance under multiple cognitive task requirements: From basic mechanisms to optimized task scheduling - SP: Training-induced plasticity of multitasking in everyday-like motor behavior (MIND)

Basic data for this project

Type of project: Subproject in DFG-joint project hosted outside University of Münster
Duration: 01/01/2020 - 31/01/2023 | 1st Funding period


Many activities of daily life involve sensorimotor and cognitive multitasking. Often-cited examples are driving a car, preparing a formal meal, controlling industrial machinery and crossing a street in busy traffic. Multitask performance, however, declines with increasing age, which might cause problems for everyday life in the context of an aging society. These diverging trends call for training programs that build upon the known training-induced plasticity of multitasking in tasks requiring sensorimotor performance. It is still not clear how training regimes need to be designed to effectively and efficiently improve multitask performance in everyday life. Theorists have proposed that executive functions might contribute towards multitasking, particularly in old age, and that training of executive functions therefore might positively influence multitask performance. Thus, we aim to investigate whether and which executive functions contribute to everyday-like multitasking and whether this contribution differs between young and older adults. Further we will investigate whether training interventions that strengthen certain executive functions might gain beneficial and transferable effect on multitasking in ecologically valid contexts. We propose three complementary work packages (WPs). WP1 will evaluate the role of executive functions for multitasking in young versus older adults, WP2 will explore the neuronal correlates of this contribution, and WP3 will address the training-induced plasticity of multitasking in older persons. Since laboratory paradigms do not necessarily transfer to real life, we will explore multitasking in realistic situations. As training benefits have been shown to be task-specific, we will use two widely different realistic sensorimotor multitasks: car driving and street crossing. Our findings will contribute towards theoretical concepts of multitasking, and open up an avenue for preventive measures against age-related decay.

Keywords: Sportwissenschaft; Bewegungswissenschaft