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 December 19, 2014 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 December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) — More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) — A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
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