Influence of task-irrelevant onset distractors on the visual search performance of young and old adults

Nicholas D. Cassavaugh, Arthur F. Kramer, David E. Irwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined potential age-related differences in attentional and oculomotor capture by single and multiple abrupt onsets in a singleton search paradigm. Participants were instructed to move their eyes as quickly as possible to a color singleton target and to identify a small letter located inside it. Either single or dual onset task-irrelevant distractors were presented simultaneously with the color change that defined the target, or one onset distractor was presented prior to and another onset distractor was presented during the participant's initial eye movement away from fixation. Young and old adults misdirected their eyes to the single and dual onset task-irrelevant distractors, on an equivalent proportion of trials, relative to control trials. However, older adults' saccade latencies and RTs were influenced to a greater extent by onsets compared to younger adults'. These data are discussed in terms of age-related differences in attentional control and oculomotor capture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-60
Number of pages17
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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