An affected mind - on the relevance of additional demands, task difficulty and the process of aging
The complexity of our daily life constantly increases. As a result, we are performing two or even more tasks simultaneously, we deal with complex demands and we make deci-sions in situations that are highly influenced by additional stimuli. At the same time, our society is rapidly aging and thus problems in handling these situations become more and more apparent. Therefore, the thesis at hand considers the influence of additional demands, task diffi-culty and the process of aging on cognitive task performance on a behavioral but also neurophysiological level. The three experiments comprised in the present thesis system-atically investigate the performance of a broad variety of cognitive tasks from simple re-action time tasks to dichotomous choice and double inhibition tasks with additional mnemonic components, but also a more applied gambling task while simultaneously performing different motor demands. The neurophysiological results highlight a facili-tating effect of additionally performed motor demands. Regarding the behavioral find-ings, significant effects of the additional motor demands were identified only in the most complex cognitive task - the gambling task of the third experiment. Here, partici-pants showed a more disadvantageous behavior with increasing motor demands. Con-sidering the influence of cognitive task difficulty, the second experiment impressively highlights a linear increase in response time with increasing cognitive task difficulty / complexity. Furthermore, age-related differences in cognitive task performance were identified under both single- and dual-task conditions. The present results are discussed in the context of information processing, executive functions, decision making and attention but also with regard to the process of aging. Based on the findings at hand, the increasing complexity of our daily life and thus the numerous aspects that affect our mind positively but also negatively, further studies should consider the present topics in a more applied context.
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