Binding visual features in working memory draws upon attentional resources in both younger and older adults

Brown, Louise A. and Brockmole, James R. (2010) Binding visual features in working memory draws upon attentional resources in both younger and older adults. In: Experimental Psychology Society Summer Meeting, 2010-07-01, England. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

We investigated the role of attention in binding visual features (colour and shape) in younger and older adults. In Experiment 1, 48 younger (M = 19 yrs) and older (M = 72 yrs) adults attempted to remember colours, shapes, and colour-shape combinations while repeating a 2-digit number (articulatory suppression) or while counting backwards from this number in multiples of 3 (performance of which was consistent across task conditions and participant groups). Results revealed greater dual task costs for bound representations than for individual features, F(2,92) = 18.95, p < .001, while the memory performance of older adults was no more affected by dual tasking than was that of younger adults. In Experiment 2, 48 younger (M = 20 yrs) and older (M = 72 yrs) adults were shown three colours, shapes, or colour-shape combinations either simultaneously (as in Exp. 1) or in sequence. An age-related binding deficit was evident, F(2,92) = 12.23, p < .001, as was a general binding deficit under sequential presentation conditions, F(2,92) = 15.81, p < .001. Taken together, the results suggest a general role for attention in visual feature binding, but that age-related binding deficits are not brought about or exacerbated by attentional demands.