In this study, the authors investigated the relationship between the cognitive status of normal adults and age-related changes in attention to novel and target events. Old, middle-age, and young subjects, divided into cognitively high and cognitively average performing groups, viewed repetitive standard stimuli, infrequent target stimuli, and unique novel visual stimuli. Subjects controlled viewing duration by a button press that led to the onset of the next stimulus. They also responded to targets by pressing a foot pedal. The amount of time spent looking at different kinds of stimuli served as a measure of visual attention and exploratory activity. Cognitively high performers spent more time viewing novel stimuli than cognitively average performers. The magnitude of the difference between cognitively high and cognitively average performing groups was largest among old subjects. Cognitively average performers had slower and less accurate responses to targets than cognitively high performers. The results provide strong evidence that the link between engagement by novelty and higher cognitive performance increases with age. Moreover, the results support the notion of there being different patterns of normal cognitive aging and the need to identify the factors that influence them.
- Cognitive aging
- Cognitive performance
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology