Feature-based interference from unattended visual field during attentional tracking in younger and older adults

V. S. Stormer, S.-C. Li, H. R. Heekeren, U. Lindenberger
2011 Journal of Vision  
The ability to attend to multiple objects that move in the visual field is important for many aspects of daily functioning. The attentional capacity for such dynamic tracking, however, is highly limited and undergoes age-related decline. Several aspects of the tracking process can influence performance. Here, we investigated effects of feature-based interference from distractor objects that appear in unattended regions of the visual field with a hemifield-tracking task. Younger and older
more » ... er and older participants performed an attentional tracking task in one hemifield while distractor objects were concurrently presented in the unattended hemifield. Feature similarity between objects in the attended and unattended hemifields as well as motion speed and the number of to-be-tracked objects were parametrically manipulated. The results show that increasing feature overlap leads to greater interference from the unattended visual field. This effect of feature-based interference was only present in the slow speed condition, indicating that the interference is mainly modulated by perceptual demands. Highperforming older adults showed a similar interference effect as younger adults, whereas low-performing adults showed poor tracking performance overall.
doi:10.1167/11.2.1 pmid:21285297 fatcat:2kaw2fzohjhxhc6uht6eblgax4