Attentional and Perceptual Contributions to the Identification of Extrafoveal Stimuli: Adult Age Comparisons

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Psychology (Scripps)

Publication Date



Cognition and Perception | Cognitive Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Gerontological researchers have been cautioned that conclusions about age differences in attention may have been inferred from data that, in fact, reflected age differences in perceptual processing of stimuli falling outside the fovea (Cerella, 1985). Presumably, the experimental manipulations on which cerella based his caution induced a broad focus of attention so that changes in perceptual processing would not be confounded with changes in attention. Experiment I tested this by comparing a condition similar to Cerella's with another in which attention was narrowly focused at fixation. The results replicated Cerella's findings. In addition, there were greater age differences when attention had been narrowly focused, showing that attentional effects can be separated from the effects reported by Cerella. Experiment 2 showed that age differences in extrafoveal perception could be removed by increasing the duration of the target from 200 to 2000 ms, suggesting that the perceptual deficits in older adults are due to differentially lengthened processing of stimuli outside the fovea.

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© 1991 Gerontological Society of America

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