Cognitive Dynamics Lab


It is almost a truism that cognitive flexibility declines as we grow older. However, empirical evidence paints a much more complex picture with some aspects virtually unchanged (e.g., Mayr & Kliegl, 2000) while other aspects do show marked deficits (Mayr, 2001).

A phenomenon that we are particularly interested in is the so-called fade-out cost that arises when people need to transition from a phase of "high-control" trial-to-trial task selection to a phase of "low-control" single-task performance. While young adults have no problems with this kind of transition, older adults continue to operate in a "high-control" mode of processing (Mayr & Liebscher, 2001). Together with Dan Spieler(Georgia Tech), we use behavioral and eye-recording techniques to examine the reasons for this overgeneralization of control. One intriguing result in this regard is that older adults spend much more time than young adults examining task cues after the transition to single-task performance (see Figure; Spieler, Mayr, & LaGrone, 2001), even though the cues provide no novel information. Possibly this reflects a general strategy in older adults to use external rather than internal sources of information. Such a strategy may be triggered by the gradual reduction of reliability of internal information across the life span.

This work was funded by an NIA grant.



Spieler, D., Mayr, U., & LaGrone, S. (in press). Outsourcing cognitive control to the environment: Adult age differences in the use of task cues. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. PDF

Deater-Deckard, K. & Mayr, U. (2005). Cognitive change in aging: identifying gene-environment correlation and nonshared environmental mechanisms. Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 60, 24-31.

Krampe, R. T., Mayr, U., & Kliegl, R. (2005). Timing, sequencing, and executive control in repetitive movement production. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 31, 379-397. PDF

Mayr, U. (2001). Age differences in the selection of mental sets: The role of inhibition, stimulus ambiguity, and response-set overlap. Psychology and Aging, 16, 96-109. PDF

Mayr, U. & Liebscher, T. (2001). Is there an age deficit in the selection of mental sets? European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 13, 47-69.

Mayr, U., Spieler, D., & Kliegl, R. (2001). Ageing and executive control: Introduction to the special issue.European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 13, 1-4.

Oberauer K., Demmrich A., Mayr U., & Kliegl, R. (2001). Dissociating retention and access in working memory: An age-comparative study of mental arithmetic. Memory and Cognition, 29, 18-33.

Krampe, R. T., Kliegl, R., Mayr, U., Engberg, R., & Vorberg, D. (2000) On the fast and slow of bimanual rhythm production: Parallel vs. integrated timing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 26, 206-233. PDF

Mayr, U., & Kliegl, R. (2000). Complex semantic processing in old age: Does it stay or does it go?Psychology and Aging, 15, 29-34. PDF

Verhaeghen, P., Kliegl, R., & Mayr, U. (1997). Sequential and coordinative complexity in time-accuracy functions for mental arithmetic. Psychology and Aging, 12, 555-564.

Mayr, U., Kliegl, R., & Krampe, R. T. (1996). Sequential and coordinative processing dynamics across the life span. Cognition, 59, 61-90.

Kliegl, R., Mayr, U., & Krampe, R. T. (1994). Time-accuracy functions for the determination of person and process differences: An application to cognitive aging. Cognitive Psychology, 26, 134-164.

Baltes, M., Mayr, U., Borchelt, M., Maas, I., & Wilms, U. (1994). Everyday competence in old and very old age: An interdisciplinary perspective. Ageing and Society, 13, 657-679.

Mayr, U., & Kliegl, R. (1993). Sequential and coordinative complexity: Age-based processing limitations in figural transformations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 19, 1297-1320.

Lindenberger, U., Mayr, U., & Kliegl, R. (1993). Speed and intelligence in old age. Psychology and Aging, 8, 207-220.

Kliegl, R., & Mayr, U. (1992). Commentary on Salthouse. Human Development, 35, 343-349.

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