Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Changes in attention and visual perception are correlated with aging: Older people find it harder to see the wood for the trees

Date:
September 30, 2011
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
When looking at a picture of many trees, young people will tend to say: "This is a forest." However, the older we get, the more likely we are to notice a single tree before seeing the forest. Researchers have found that these age-related changes are correlated with a specific aspect of visual perception, known as Gestalt perception.

When looking at a picture of many trees, young people will tend to say: "This is a forest." However, the older we get, the more likely we are to notice a single tree before seeing the forest. This suggests that the speed at which the brain processes the bigger picture is slower in older people. In a new study published in the July-August issue of Elsevier΄s Cortex, researchers have found that these age-related changes are correlated with a specific aspect of visual perception, known as Gestalt perception.

Related Articles


Markus Staudinger, together with Gereon R. Fink, Clare E. Mackey, and Silke Lux, investigated the brain's ability to focus on the local and global aspects of visual stimuli, in a group of young and elderly healthy subjects. They also studied how this ability is related to Gestalt perception, which is the mind's tendency to perceive many similar smaller objects as being part of a bigger entity. As expected, older people found it more difficult to concentrate on the global picture, but they also had trouble with the Gestalt principle of Good Continuation -- the mind's preference for continuous shapes.

Participants in the study were shown groups of letters which were arranged in a pattern so that they formed a larger letter (see below), and asked whether a letter appeared on the local or global level. Importantly, the number of small letters forming the pattern was then varied. Usually, the smaller the letters are in the pattern, the easier it is to perceive the larger letter, and this was indeed true for the younger participants in the study. However, varying the number or letters did not help the older people, who remained slower to notice the global figure.

These findings provide the first evidence that changes in attention -- meaning, the ability to concentrate on one thing, while ignoring others -- and in Gestalt perception are correlated to healthy aging. More generally, they show that there may be age-related changes in different cognitive domains which interact. Furthermore, the results help us understand which specific aspects of visual perception become impaired in healthy aging.

E E E E E
E
E
E E E E
E
E
E


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Markus R. Staudinger, Gereon R. Fink, Clare E. Mackay, Silke Lux. Gestalt perception and the decline of global precedence in older subjects. Cortex, 2011; 47 (7): 854 DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2010.08.001

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Changes in attention and visual perception are correlated with aging: Older people find it harder to see the wood for the trees." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725101229.htm>.
Elsevier. (2011, September 30). Changes in attention and visual perception are correlated with aging: Older people find it harder to see the wood for the trees. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725101229.htm
Elsevier. "Changes in attention and visual perception are correlated with aging: Older people find it harder to see the wood for the trees." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725101229.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. 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

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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