Aging and feature search: The effect of search area

Academic Article


  • The preattentive system involves the rapid parallel processing of visual information in the visual scene so that attention can be directed to meaningful objects and locations in the environment. This study used the feature search methodology to examine whether there are aging-related deficits in parallel-processing capabilities when older adults are required to visually search a large area of the visual field. Like young subjects, older subjects displayed flat, near-zero slopes for the Reaction Time × Set Size function when searching over a broad area (30° radius) of the visual field, implying parallel processing of the visual display. These same older subjects exhibited impairment in another task, also dependent on parallel processing, performed over the same broad field area: this task, called the useful field of view test, has more complex task demands. Results imply that aging-related breakdowns of parallel processing over a large visual field area are not likely to emerge when required responses are simple, there is only one task to perform, and there is no limitation on visual inspection time.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Burton-Danner K; Owsley C; Jackson GR
  • Start Page

  • 1
  • End Page

  • 18
  • Volume

  • 27
  • Issue

  • 1