The effects of age and task domain on dual task performance: a meta-analysis

Leigh Riby, Timothy J. Perfect, Brian Stollery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has provided mixed findings as to whether older adults find dual tasking problematic. Here, we examined whether methodological variations across studies can account for the discrepancies in the literature. Meta-analyses conducted on the results of 34 studies conducted between 1981 and 2003 found a strong overall effect size (d = .68), which indicated a clear age-related dual tasking impairment. However, this effect size was not representative of all the individual studies reported. Subsequent analyses, using an analysis of variance analogue (Hedges & Olkin, 1985), investigated potential moderators responsible for the variability in the effect sizes across studies. These secondary analyses included a comparison of dependent measure used, whether baseline differences in performance had been controlled for, and task domain. Task domain was found to be the critical moderator variable. Notably, tasks with a substantial controlled processing, or motor component showed greater dual task impairment than tasks that were relatively simple or relied on automatic processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-891
JournalEuropean Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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