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Browsing by Author "Väliaho, Miika Julius"

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  • Väliaho, Miika Julius (2017)
    Executive functioning is a general concept covering a multitude of different cognitive functions, e.g. direction and upkeep of attention, working memory, self-observation and -inhibition, emotional control and goal-directed behavior. Specific aspects of executive functioning such as switching between schemas, inhibition and task management can be defined as flexible cognition, and they have been studied extensively with so called task switching tasks. Switching between schemas or task-sets can be seen in task switching tasks as a task switching cost. This study focuses on measuring the performance and event-related potentials (ERP) of subjects of working age during task switching situations. Of special interest were the effects of musical training on the quality of flexible cognition, the training presumably lowering the cost of switching between tasks. Previous research shows that musical training can facilitate positive physiologically based development of cognition and alleviate age-related natural deficits in cognition. However, there is not much research on this subject concerning the working age-group. The data consists of 28 healthy, working subjects of 40–66 years. Out of the 28 subjects, adequate ERP-data was collected from 20 subjects. The subjects were recruited from different groups of hobby and leisure and were divided into musical or control group according to their experience in musical training. The design of the task switching task experiment followed the example of Leinikka et al. (2014). Reaction times and ERPs were measured from the subjects during a short, 15-minutes task switching task. Both the behavioral and ERP-data were analyzed statistically using a repeated measures variance analysis. A clear task switching cost was observed in behavioral data and a rise in amplitude in ERP-data reflecting the behavioral task switching cost. No differences between the musical and control groups were observed. However, a small but statistically significant difference in task switching cost was observed between sexes in the behavioral data. The task switching cost is clearly a robust phenomenon that can be observed both in behavioral and in brain-based measures. According to this data, it seems that the performance in task switching task is not influenced by musical training. These results can be due to the limitations of the influence of musical training on flexible cognition, the nature of the current experimental design, or the demographics of the current sample. As for the differences in performance between sexes, no clear interpretation is available.