Spotorno, S, Ramzaoui, H and Faure, S (2021) Top-down and bottom-up guidance in normal aging during scene search. Psychology and Aging, 36 (4). pp. 433-451. ISSN 0882-7974

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Age-related differences in visual search have been extensively studied using simple item arrays, showing an attentional decline. Little is known about how aging affects attentional guidance during search in more complex scenes. To study this issue, we analyzed eye-movement behavior in realistic scene search. We examined age-related differences in top-down guidance, manipulating target template specificity (picture vs. word cue) and target-scene semantic consistency (consistent vs. inconsistent), and in bottom-up guidance, manipulating perceptual salience (high vs. low) of targets and distractors. Compared to young adults (YA), older adults (OA) were overall slower, from the first saccade in the scene. They showed a smaller benefit of a specific target template, suggesting that precision of visual information in working memory may decrease with age. The benefit of semantic consistency did not depend on age, suggesting a preserved ability in OA to use knowledge about object occurrence in scenes. OA showed greater bottom-up search facilitation due to target’s high salience, which may depend on reduced selection of low-salience stimuli. Attentional capture by distractors was greater in OA than YA, with respect to engagement (probability of distractor fixation), but only following a picture cue, and disengagement (fixation duration on distractors) in all conditions. Overall, our study shows that age-related differences in visual selection of targets and distractors depend on specific task demands in terms of top-down and bottom-up guidance. It also indicates that scene search difficulties in OA can be limited by cognitive and perceptual forms of environmental support. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this accepted manuscript is available directly from the publisher, along with all relevant information at
Uncontrolled Keywords: aging; visual search; eye movements; attentional guidance; realistic scenes
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 28 May 2021 11:27
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2021 08:16

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