Selective attention to emotion in the aging brain.
A growing body of research suggests that the ability to regulate emotion remains stable or improves across the adult life span. Socioemotional selectivity theory maintains that this pattern of findings reflects the prioritization of emotional goals. Given that goal-directed behavior requires attentional control, the present study was designed to investigate age differences in selective attention to emotional lexical stimuli under conditions of emotional interference. Both neural and behavioral measures were obtained during an experiment in which participants completed a flanker task that required them to make categorical judgments about emotional and nonemotional stimuli. Older adults showed interference in both the behavioral and neural measures on control trials but not on emotion trials. Although older adults typically show relatively high levels of interference and reduced cognitive control during nonemotional tasks, they appear to be able to successfully reduce interference during emotional tasks.
Samanez-Larkin, GR; Robertson, ER; Mikels, JA; Carstensen, LL; Gotlib, IH
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