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Age Differences in the Efficiency of Filtering and Ignoring Distraction in Visual Working Memory


Maniglia, Mariana R; Souza, Alessandra S (2020). Age Differences in the Efficiency of Filtering and Ignoring Distraction in Visual Working Memory. Brain Sciences, 10(8):556.

Abstract

Healthy aging is associated with decline in the ability to maintain visual information in working memory (WM). We examined whether this decline can be explained by decreases in the ability to filter distraction during encoding or to ignore distraction during memory maintenance. Distraction consisted of irrelevant objects (Exp. 1) or irrelevant features of an object (Exp. 2). In Experiment 1, participants completed a spatial WM task requiring remembering locations on a grid. During encoding or during maintenance, irrelevant distractor positions were presented. In Experiment 2, participants encoded either single-feature (colors or orientations) or multifeature objects (colored triangles) and later reproduced one of these features using a continuous scale. In multifeature blocks, a precue appeared before encoding or a retrocue appeared during memory maintenance indicating with 100% certainty to the to-be-tested feature, thereby enabling filtering and ignoring of the irrelevant (not-cued) feature, respectively. There were no age-related deficits in the efficiency of filtering and ignoring distractor objects (Exp. 1) and of filtering irrelevant features (Exp. 2). Both younger and older adults could not ignore irrelevant features when cued with a retrocue. Overall, our results provide no evidence for an aging deficit in using attention to manage visual WM.

Abstract

Healthy aging is associated with decline in the ability to maintain visual information in working memory (WM). We examined whether this decline can be explained by decreases in the ability to filter distraction during encoding or to ignore distraction during memory maintenance. Distraction consisted of irrelevant objects (Exp. 1) or irrelevant features of an object (Exp. 2). In Experiment 1, participants completed a spatial WM task requiring remembering locations on a grid. During encoding or during maintenance, irrelevant distractor positions were presented. In Experiment 2, participants encoded either single-feature (colors or orientations) or multifeature objects (colored triangles) and later reproduced one of these features using a continuous scale. In multifeature blocks, a precue appeared before encoding or a retrocue appeared during memory maintenance indicating with 100% certainty to the to-be-tested feature, thereby enabling filtering and ignoring of the irrelevant (not-cued) feature, respectively. There were no age-related deficits in the efficiency of filtering and ignoring distractor objects (Exp. 1) and of filtering irrelevant features (Exp. 2). Both younger and older adults could not ignore irrelevant features when cued with a retrocue. Overall, our results provide no evidence for an aging deficit in using attention to manage visual WM.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:14 August 2020
Deposited On:18 Jan 2021 14:49
Last Modified:24 Feb 2024 02:40
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:2076-3425
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10080556
PubMed ID:32824098
Project Information:
  • : FunderVelux Foundation
  • : Grant ID1053
  • : Project TitleAttention in the Aging Mind
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)