Data-driven and memory-driven selective attention in visual search.
The present experiment investigated Rabbitt's (1979) hypothesis that age differences in selective attention occur when memory-driven processing must be employed. Young and older adults performed a visual search task, which, on some trials, provided advance information (a cue) regarding the particular target letter most likely to appear in the display. The nature of the selectivity required by the cue was either data-driven (Condition 1) or memory-driven (Condition 2). Analyses of the benefit in search performance associated with the cued trials and of the cost in performance resulting from the presentation of misleading advance information yielded limited support for Rabbitt's hypothesis. The older adults, but not the young, did exhibit a smaller cuing benefit in Condition 2 than in Condition 1. Both age groups, however, demonstrated substantial benefits and costs within each condition. Age differences in selective attention are thus not determined completely by the requirement to use memory-driven processing.
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