Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain's ability to selectively focus, pay attention diminishes with age, study finds

Date:
November 3, 2010
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
A new study shows that the brain's ability to selectively filter unattended or unwanted information diminishes with age, leaving older adults less capable of filtering out distracting or irrelevant information.

A University of Toronto study shows that visual attention -- the brain's ability to selectively filter unattended or unwanted information from reaching awareness -- diminishes with age, leaving older adults less capable of filtering out distracting or irrelevant information.

Related Articles


Further, this age-related "leaky" attentional filter fundamentally impacts the way visual information is encoded into memory. Older adults with impaired visual attention have better memory for "irrelevant" information. The research, conducted by members of U of T's Department of Psychology, will be published Nov. 3 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

In the study, the research team examined brain images using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on a group of young (mean age = 22 years) and older adults (mean age = 77 years) while they looked at pictures of overlapping faces and places (houses and buildings). Participants were asked to only pay attention to the faces and to identify the gender of the person. Even though they could see the place in the image, it was not relevant to the task at hand

"In young adults, the brain region for processing faces was active while the brain region for processing places was not," says Taylor Schmitz, lead author of the research paper. "However, both the face and place regions were active in older people. This means that even at early stages of perception, older adults were less capable of filtering out the distracting information. Moreover, on a surprise memory test 10 minutes after the scan, older adults were more likely to recognize what face was originally paired with what house."

The findings suggest that under attentionally-demanding conditions, such as looking for one's keys on a cluttered table, age-related problems with "tuning in" to the desired object may be linked to the way in which information is selected and processed in the sensory areas of the brain. Both the relevant sensory information -- the keys -- and the irrelevant information -- the clutter -- are perceived and encoded more or less equally. In older adults, these changes in visual attention may broadly influence many of the cognitive deficits typically observed in normal aging, particularly memory.

The study was conducted by Eve De Rosa, Taylor Schmitz and Frederick H.T. Cheng, all of U of T's Department of Psychology. Data was collected in the Department of Psychology and at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Hospital. The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "Brain's ability to selectively focus, pay attention diminishes with age, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101102171610.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2010, November 3). Brain's ability to selectively focus, pay attention diminishes with age, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101102171610.htm
University of Toronto. "Brain's ability to selectively focus, pay attention diminishes with age, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101102171610.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) — More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) — Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) — Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins