Age-related effects of attentional and oculomotor capture by onsets and color singletons as a function of experience

Angela M. Colcombe, Arthur F. Kramer, David E. Irwin, Mathew S. Peterson, Stanley Colcombe, Sowon Hahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present experiment examined the degree to which experience with different stimulus characteristics affects attentional capture, particularly as related to aging. Participants were presented with onset target/color singleton distractor or color singleton target/onset distractor pairs across three experimental sessions. The target/distractor pairs were reversed in the second session such that the target in the first session became the distractor in the second and third sessions. For both young and old adults previous experience with color as a target defining feature influenced oculomotor capture with task-irrelevant color distractors. Experience with sudden onsets had the same effect for younger and older adults, although capture effects were substantially larger for onset than for color distractors. Experience-based capture effects diminished relatively rapidly after target and distractor-defining properties were reversed. The results are discussed in terms of top-down and stimulus-driven effects on age-related differences in attentional control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-225
Number of pages21
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • Aging
  • Attention
  • Practice
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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