Aging Increases Inattentional Blindness to the Gorilla in Our Midst

  • Graham E
  • Burke D
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When engaged in an attention-demanding task, people are surprisingly vulnerable to inattentional blindness--the failure to notice an unexpected event. Two theories of cognitive aging, attentional capacity models and inhibitory deficit models, make opposite predictions about age differences in susceptibility to inattentional blindness. We tested these predictions using an inattentional blindness paradigm developed by Simons and Chabris (1999) and found that older adults were more likely to experience inattentional blindness than young adults. These results are compatible with attentional capacity models of cognitive aging but not with current inhibitory deficit models.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aging
  • Attention
  • Attentional capacity
  • Inattentional blindness
  • Inhibition

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  • Elizabeth R. Graham

  • Deborah M. Burke

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