Contextual interference, working memory, and aging: will active senior adults benefit from random practice?
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Little is known about the effect of aging on contextual interference. To investigatethe relationship between contextual interference and aging, the performance of 36 college-aged (M = 19.4 years) and 36 senior (M = 72.1 years) participants was compared by administering anticipation timing tasks which were similar to the skills required in driving. Because the to-be-learned tasks are held and processed in working memory, it is predicted that deficits in working memory with aging may affect the benefits of random practice schedule (RA) as shown in typical contextual interference paradigm. To accommodate any working memory deficits of the senior adults, a modification of RA (RA-M) was employed in the present study and was predicted to produce more accurate and consistent retention and transfer for the senior adults compared to RA. The results in the present study demonstrate the effectiveness of RA-M for the senior adult participants and the benefit of age and experience on timing tasks.