Inhibitory attentional mechanisms and aging

  • Kane M
  • Hasher L
  • Stoltzfus E
 et al. 
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Two experiments sought to elicit distractor suppression in older adults. Experiment 1 used a procedure that increased suppression in younger adults, thus creating a more sensitive measure of suppression in older adults. To compensate for older adults' slowed processing, Experiment 2 used a longer stimulus exposure duration. Neither experiment produced suppression in older adults; both experiments, however, included trial types that elicited parallel facilitatory effects for both age groups. Older adults thus seemed to process distractors but failed to engage inhibitory mechanisms in their rejection of distracting stimuli. Finally, both experiments tested the relationships among suppression, interference, and everyday cognitive failure. Neither experiment suggested relationships between reaction time effects and self-reported cognitive lapses. Results are discussed within L. Hasher and R. T. Zacks's (1988) attentional framework.

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  • M. J. Kane

  • L. Hasher

  • E. R. Stoltzfus

  • R. T. Zacks

  • S. L. Connelly

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