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Publication Detail
The influence of perceptual load on age differences in selective attention.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Clinical Trial
  • Authors:
    Maylor EA, Lavie N
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    563, 573
  • Journal:
    Psychol Aging
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Status:
  • Country:
    United States
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Adult, Aged, Aging, Analysis of Variance, Attention, Discrimination, Psychological, Female, Humans, Inhibition, Psychological, Male, Reaction Time, Signal Detection, Psychological, Visual Perception
The effect of perceptual load on age differences in visual selective attention was examined in 2 studies. In Experiment 1, younger and older adults made speeded choice responses indicating which of 2 target letters was present in a relevant set of letters in the center of the display while they attempted to ignore an irrelevant distractor in the periphery. The perceptual load of relevant processing was manipulated by varying the central set size. When the relevant set size was small, the adverse effect of an incompatible distractor was much greater for the older participants than for the younger ones. However, with larger relevant set sizes, this was no longer the case, with the distractor effect decreasing for older participants at lower levels of perceptual load than for younger ones. In Experiment 2, older adults were tested with the empty locations in the central set either unmarked (as in Experiment 1) or marked by small circles to form a group of 6 items irrespective of set size; the 2 conditions did not differ markedly, ruling out an explanation based entirely on perceptual grouping.
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