The reactive-proactive control balance in healthy and clinical aging
We are continuously bombarded with input. Our cognitive system needs to selectively process relevant input, maintain this input and inhibit automatic or irrelevant input, to achieve our goals. This process is called cognitive control. The DMC theory distinguishes proactive and reactive control. Proactive control is an early selection
mechanism that works preventively and anticipatory before conflict occurs. Reactive control is a late correction mechanism that detects and resolves conflict after it occurs. Young adults flexibly switch between reactive and proactive control. During aging, however, this cognitive control balance is disturbed and a shift takes place from a mainly proactive to a mainly reactive control pattern. This shift can lead to important decrements in cognitive performance. The first aim of the current project is to pinpoint when and how this transition from proactive to reactive control occurs in healthy aging. This could aid in developing programs for elderly to preserve or improve proactive control. Second, little is known about the cognitive control balance in clinical aging. Scarce studies suggest that clinical older populations
are at an even increased risk of proactive control impairment. Therefore, we will assess the reactive-proactive control balance in a clinical population at the verge of developing cognitive impairments. This will allows us to examine whether a disturbed cognitive control balance is a marker of early onset cognitive decline.