Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Youth adapt faster than seniors to unexpected events, study finds

Date:
January 18, 2011
Source:
Concordia University
Summary:
Does experience give seniors an edge in reacting to sudden change or are younger people quicker to respond? A new study shows that when a routine task is interrupted by an unexpected event, younger adults are faster at responding. The findings have implications for educators and for older adults in situations where performance is crucial.

Does experience give seniors an edge in reacting to sudden change or are younger people quicker to respond? A new study from Concordia University shows that when a routine task is interrupted by an unexpected event, younger adults are faster at responding. Published in the Journal of Gerontology, the findings have implications for educators and for older adults in situations where performance is crucial.

Related Articles


"When we frequently perform a task, our reactions become automatic," says Kevin Trewartha, first author and a PhD student in Concordia's Department of Psychology and a researcher at the Centre for Research in Human Development. "For example, experienced drivers are often 'on autopilot' when they're behind the wheel, but they do just fine, unless something unexpected happens. We're interested in reaction speeds in different age groups when something unexpected does occur while someone is performing a routine task."

Some 40 participants took part in the study: half were 19 to 36 years old, while the other half were 60 to 75 years old. Each participant was asked to follow visual cues on a computer screen and press corresponding keys on a piano keyboard. Some sequences were repeated frequently so that participants learned to expect them, while other sequences were randomly added at intervals to create unexpected sequences.

Reaction in older adults

"Older adults were less able to overcome their habitual responses when unexpected sequences arose," says Trewartha. "They were also slower in learning to adapt. They didn't improve as much as younger adults when they were asked to vary their learned routine on multiple occasions."

The study is one of the first to use 3D motion capture technology, the same tool used in film and animation, to link age-related cognitive changes to motor control. In short, the research sought to break down the reaction time of participants before they undertook a movement and the time they required to complete that movement. This breakdown produced unexpected results.

The research team found older adults tended to take less time to plan movements but more time to execute them -- perhaps because they felt uncertain about their reactions. Trewartha and colleagues are already planning follow-up research to study the brain activity linked with the performance of learned and new movement patterns.

These results suggest that focus is even more important for older adults than for younger individuals. "When they really need to perform well at a given task, older adults should probably seek out an environment where they can focus on the task at hand without distractions," says senior author Karen Z.H. Li, a professor in Concordia's Department of Psychology and a researcher at the Centre for Research in Human Development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Concordia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. M. Trewartha, V. B. Penhune, K. Z. H. Li. Movement Kinematics of Prepotent Response Suppression in Aging During Conflict Adaptation. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbq090

Cite This Page:

Concordia University. "Youth adapt faster than seniors to unexpected events, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110118113453.htm>.
Concordia University. (2011, January 18). Youth adapt faster than seniors to unexpected events, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110118113453.htm
Concordia University. "Youth adapt faster than seniors to unexpected events, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110118113453.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins