Age-related changes in selective attention and perceptual load during visual search.
Three visual search experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that age differences in selective attention vary as a function of perceptual load (E. A. Maylor & N. Lavie, 1998). Under resource-limited conditions (Experiments 1 and 2), the distraction from irrelevant display items generally decreased as display size (perceptual load) increased. This perceptual load effect was similar for younger and older adults, contrary to the findings of Maylor and Lavie. Distraction at low perceptual loads appeared to reflect both general and specific inhibitory mechanisms. Under more data-limited conditions (Experiment 3), an age-related decline in selective attention was evident, but the age difference was not attributable to capacity limitations as predicted by the perceptual load theory.
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