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  • Author: Kathye E. Light x
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Kathye E. Light and Waneen W. Spirduso

Unlike stimulus–response compatibility, which has been explored for aging effects, the motor behavior issue of response–response (R–R) compatibility has not been addressed in the gerontological literature. R–R compatibility refers to the ease with which two responses can be prepared together either simultaneously or as choice alternatives. In the present study, young, middle-aged, and elderly adult female subjects were tested in a two-choice reaction-time (RT) paradigm involving four types of finger movements paired in every possible choice combination, creating different levels of R–R compatibility. Significant age differences increased as R–R compatibility decreased. The practical significance of this study is to establish R–R compatibility as an important factor influencing task difficulty to which older adults are particularly sensitive and to encourage recognition of this factor when prescribing progressive motor-skill training in elderly clients.

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Kathye E. Light, Marie A. Reilly, Andrea L. Behrman and Waneen W. Spirduso

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of practice on simple reaction time (RT), movement time (MT), and response consistency for two arm-reaching tasks of graded complexity in younger and older adults. Forty subjects, 20 younger adults (age range = 20–29 years) and 20 older adults (age range = 60–82 years), were randomly subdivided into practice and control groups. All subjects were pretested on each arm-reaching movement on Day 1. The practice groups practiced each task for 160 trials over 2 consecutive days while the control groups practiced a memory task and answered a health survey. All subjects were posttested on Day 3. The major finding was that practice reduced the simple RTs of older persons to the level of younger persons. MTs for both practice age groups were reduced, but the age differences in MT performance were maintained.