Adult age differences in attention: filtering or selection?
We examined the effect of target letter redundancy for target-only (TO) and target-plus-noise (TPN) trials on a visual search, divided attention task where target letters were presented in one or two corners of a two-corner display. Half of the two-letter displays also included a noise letter. In both Experiment 1 (two-choice vs go/no-go) and Experiment 2 (all go/no-go), older adults showed larger redundancy gains than did young adults, and this effect did not interact with task type or visual similarity. However, for the "no-go" trials in both experiments, there were no age differences in overall errors. These results suggest that there are age differences in the activation of selective attention rather than age differences in inhibitory control. In Experiment 2, young adults under lower-luminance presentation conditions (18 cd/m2) showed a smaller redundancy gain than did older adults under higher-luminance presentation conditions (40 cd/m2). These results provided further support of the age differences in activation interpretation, as well as indicating that older adults' larger redundancy gain was not due to an age decrement in retinal illuminance.
Allen, PA; Weber, TA; Madden, DJ
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