Making sense of age-related distractibility : the critical role of sensory modality

M.J.S. Guerreiro*, D.R. Murphy, P.W.M. van Gerven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Older adults are known to have reduced inhibitory control and therefore to be more distractible than young adults. Recently, we have proposed that sensory modality plays a crucial role in age-related distractibility. In this study, we examined age differences in vulnerability to unimodal and cross-modal visual and auditory distraction. A group of 24 younger (mean age = 21.7 years) and 22 older adults (mean age = 65.4 years) performed visual and auditory n-back tasks while ignoring visual and auditory distraction. Whereas reaction time data indicated that both young and older adults are particularly affected by unimodal distraction, accuracy data revealed that older adults, but not younger adults, are vulnerable to cross-modal visual distraction. These results support the notion that age-related distractibility is modality dependent. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-194
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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