Age differences in visual search: target and distractor learning.

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Age differences in a semantic category visual search task were investigated to determine whether the age effects were due to target learning deficits, distractor learning deficits, or a combination thereof. Twelve young (mean age 20) and 12 older (mean age 70) adults received 2,400 trials each in consistent and varied versions of the search task. Following training, a series of transfer-reversal manipulations allowed the assessment of target learning and distractor learning both in isolation and in combination. The pattern of data suggests that older adults have a deficit in their ability to increase the attention-attraction strength of targets and to decrease the attention-attraction strength of distractors. The results are interpreted in terms of a strength-based framework of visual search performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-535
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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