Age-related differences in the distractor previewing effect with schematic faces of emotions

Xiaoang Wan, Lin Tian, Alejandro Lleras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Young and older adults searched for a unique face in a set of three schematic faces and identified a secondary feature of the target. The faces could be negative, positive, or neutral. Young adults were slower and less accurate in searching for a negative face among neutral faces when they had previewed a display of negative faces than when they had previewed neutral faces, indicating an emotional distractor previewing effect (DPE), but this effect was eliminated with inverted faces. The DPE is an index of inter-trial inhibition to keep attention away from previewed, non-target information. Older adults also showed such an emotional DPE, but it was present with both upright and inverted faces. These results show that, in general, both young and old participants are sensitive to trial history, yet the different patterns of results suggest that these two groups remember and use different types of perceptual information when searching through emotional faces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-410
Number of pages25
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Aging
  • Attention inhibition
  • Distractor previewing effect
  • Emotion and attention
  • Schematic faces
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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