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Practice makes perfect: High performance gains in older adults engaged in selective attention within and across sensory modalities

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Abstract

Selective attention has been found to decline with aging, possibly depending on the sensory modality through which targets and distractors are presented. We investigated the capacity of older adults to improve performance on visual and auditory selective attention tasks. 31 younger (mean age = 22.8 years, SD = 2.1) and 29 older participants (mean age = 69.5 years, SD = 5.8) performed visual and auditory tasks with and without unimodal and cross-modal distraction across five practice sessions. Reaction time decreased with practice in both age groups. Strikingly, this performance improvement was similar across the age groups. Moreover, distractor modality did not affect performance gains in either age group. Older adults were disproportionally affected by cross-modal visual distraction, however, corroborating previous studies. This age-related effect was mitigated during the practice sessions. Finally, there was no transfer of practice to neuropsychological test performance. These results suggest a high capacity of older individuals to improve selective attention functions within and across sensory modalities.

    Research areas

  • Aging, Selective attention, Distraction, Sensory modality, Practice, MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT, NORMATIVE DATA, AGE, DISTRACTION, INTERFERENCE, ENHANCEMENT, INTEGRATION, EDUCATION, DEMENTIA, SEX
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-111
Number of pages11
JournalActa Psychologica
Volume191
Early online date18 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018