Age differences in the control of looking behavior: Do You Know Where Your Eyes Have Been?

Arthur F. Kramer, Sowon Hahn, David E. Irwin, Jan Theeuwes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Previous research has shown that during visual search young and old adults' eye movements are equivalently influenced by the appearance of task-irrelevant abrupt onsets. The finding of age-equivalent oculomotor capture is quite surprising in light of the abundant research suggesting that older adults exhibit poorer inhibitory control than young adults on a variety of different tasks. In the present study, we examined the hypothesis that oculomotor capture is age invariant when subjects' awareness of the appearance of task-irrelevant onsets is low, but that older adults will have more difficulty than young adults in inhibiting reflexive eye movements to task-irrelevant onsets when awareness of these objects is high. Our results were consistent with the level-of-awareness hypothesis. Young and old adults showed equivalent patterns of oculomotor capture with equiluminant onsets, but older adults misdirected their eyes to bright onsets more often than young adults did.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-217
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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