Humans employ different strategies when making decisions. Previous research has reported reduced reliance on model-based strategies with aging, but it remains unclear whether this is due to cognitive or motivational factors. Moreover, it is not clear how aging affects the metacontrol of decision making, i.e. the dynamic adaptation of decision-making strategies to varying situational demands. In this cross-sectional study, we tested younger and older adults in a sequential decision-making task that dissociates model-free and model-based strategies. In contrast to previous research, model-based strategies led to higher payoffs. Moreover, we manipulated the costs and benefits of model-based strategies by varying reward magnitude and the stability of the task structure. Compared to younger adults, older adults showed reduced model-based decision making and less adaptation of decision-making strategies. Our findings suggest that aging affects the metacontrol of decision-making strategies and that reduced model-based strategies in older adults are due to limited cognitive abilities.
Experimental data as well as analysis scripts are available online at https://osf.io/xne7c/?view_only=2dc70606bede44d5a982556ac8fbe0aa
Metacontrol of decision-making strategies in human agingDOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/XNE7C.
- Ben Eppinger
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: All participants gave informed written consent. The ethics committee of Technische Universität Dresden approved the study (reference number EK 519122015).
- Thorsten Kahnt, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, United States
© 2019, Bolenz et al.
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