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A neuropsychological assessment of dual-task costs in closed-head injury patients using Cohen’s effect size estimation method

Abstract

A test of whether patients suffering from a severe closed-head injury (CHI) were affected by disproportionate dual-task costs compared to those of healthy control participants was carried out through a direct comparison of CHI effects on dual-task (psychological refractory period, or PRP) performance and on single-task performance. In the dual-task condition of the present experiment, independent choice-responses were required to two sequential stimuli presented at a variable stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA). A significant delay of the reaction time (RT) to the second stimulus was reported by both CHI patients and controls at short (SOA) compared to long SOA, i.e., a PRP effect. The PRP effect was more pronounced for CHI patients than controls. In the single-task condition, a single choice-response was required to a stimulus presented in isolation. The RT produced by CHI patients in the single-task paradigm was longer than the RT produced by controls. CHI effects on dual-task performance and on single-task performance were compared following (1) their transformation into Cohen’s ds, and (2) the application of a correction algorithm taking into account the different reliability of single-task and dual-task measures. The analysis of Cohen’s ds revealed that CHI effects on performance were, if anything, smaller in the dual-task condition than in the single-task condition. The results imply that CHI patient’s slower responding in single- and dual-task performance reflects a single common cause—slowing of the central processing.

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Correspondence to Roberto Dell’Acqua.

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Dell’Acqua, R., Sessa, P. & Pashler, H. A neuropsychological assessment of dual-task costs in closed-head injury patients using Cohen’s effect size estimation method. Psychological Research 70, 553–561 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-005-0016-4

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Keywords

  • Stimulus Onset Asynchrony
  • Psychological Refractory Period
  • Short Stimulus Onset Asynchrony
  • Psychological Refractory Period Effect
  • Colored Disk