Age-related differences in visual search in dynamic displays

Ensar Becic, Arthur F. Kramer, Walter R. Boot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors examined the ability of younger and older adults to detect changes in dynamic displays. Older and younger adults viewed displays containing numerous moving objects and were asked to respond when a new object was added to the display. Accuracy, response times, and eye movements were recorded. For both younger and older participants, the number of eye movements accounted for a large proportion of variance in transient detection performance. Participants who actively searched for the change performed significantly worse than did participants who employed a passive or covert scan strategy, indicating that passive scanning may be a beneficial strategy in certain dynamic environments. The cost of an active scan strategy was especially high for older participants in terms of both accuracy and response times. However, older adults who employed a passive or covert scan strategy showed greater improvement, relative to older active searchers, than did younger adults. These results highlight the importance of individual differences in scanning strategy in real-world dynamic, cluttered environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Aging
  • Dynamic displays
  • Saccades
  • Search strategy
  • Transient detection
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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