Neuropsychology, Vol 38(3), Mar 2024, 249-258; doi:10.1037/neu0000936Objective: The Hick–Hyman law states that response time (RT) increases linearly with increasing information uncertainty. The effects of aging on uncertainty representations in choice RT paradigms remain unclear, including whether aging differentially affects processes mediating externally cued versus internally driven uncertainty. This study sought to characterize age-related differences in uncertainty representations using a card-sorting task. Method: The task separately manipulated internally driven uncertainty (i.e., probability of each stimulus type with fixed number of response piles) and externally cued uncertainty (i.e., number of response piles with fixed probability of each stimulus type). Results: Older adults (OA) showed greater RT slowing than younger adults in response to uncertainty load, an effect that was stronger in the externally cued than internally driven condition. While both age groups showed lower accuracy and greater RTs in response to unexpected (surprising) stimuli in the internally driven condition at low uncertainty loads, OA were unable to distinguish between expected and nonexpected stimuli at higher uncertainty loads when the probability of each stimulus type was close to equal. Among OA, better performance on the internally driven, but not externally cued, condition was associated with better global cognitive performance and verbal fluency. Conclusions: Collectively, these findings provide behavioral evidence of age-related disruptions to bottom-up (externally cued) and top-down (supporting internally driven mental representations) resources to process uncertainty and coordinate task-relevant action. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved)

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This post is Copyright: | November 2, 2023
Neuropsychology – Vol 38, Iss 3