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Branching Condition of the Color-Word Interference Test Enhances Prediction of Meta-Tasking in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2021

Natalie E. Kurniadi
School of Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Yana Suchy*
Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Madison Amelia Niermeyer
Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Yana Suchy, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Utah, 380 S. 1530 E. Rm 502 Salt Lake City, UT84112, USA. Email:



Meta-tasking (MT) is an aspect of executive functioning (EF) that involves the ability to branch (i.e., to apply “if-then” rules) and to effectively interleave sub-goals of one task with sub-goals of another task. As such, MT is crucial for successful planning, coordination, and execution of multiple complex tasks in daily life. Traditional tests of EF fail to adequately measure MT. This study examined whether Condition 4 of the Color-Word Interference Test (CWIT-4; the inhibition/switching condition that requires branching) predicted MT beyond Condition 3 (CWIT-3; inhibition-only condition) and beyond other subtests from the Delis–Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS) that have a switching condition.


Ninety-eight non-Hispanic white community-dwelling older adults completed the first four subtests of the D-KEFS and an ecologically valid measure of MT.


Time to completion and total errors on CWIT-4 accounted for variance in MT above and beyond CWIT-3 and beyond the switching conditions of other D-KEFS subtests. Results remained virtually unchanged when controlling for demographics and general cognitive status.


Among older adults, CWIT-4 is more strongly associated with MT than other D-KFES tasks. Future research should examine whether CWIT-4 relates to lapses in instrumental activities of daily living among older adults above and beyond other EF tests.

Regular Research
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2021

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Scopus Author ID: 6603346885; Madison A. Niermeyer is now at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.



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