Psych 330, Nov. 14 th
Attention Across the Lifespan
Physiology of the developing brain
Studying attention in infants
Development and decline of attention
The one that with last to develop will be the first one to decline.
• Plate stacking mechanism: the last plate that put on the stacker will be the first one to be
• Big changes of physiology of our brain of first few years and months: Development of
cortical neurons: more interconnectivity of cortical layers from newborn to adult. ▯big
• Development of visual acuity: one month old has poor and low visual acuity; two months
old can recognize family members, better vision acuity
• Sticky fixation in one month olds, hard for them to look away.
• Damage to parietal cortex will have the sticky fixation problem.
• Infant selective looking experiment, RA looks at baby’s eyes to identify where do the
babies look at.
At what age does cognitive decline begin ?
• No specific lines, depends on individuals. If you take care of your heart and no problem
of your genes, then your brain will be fine. Also depends on how much you use your brain.
• People are constantly losing brain mass .
• If constantly learning and using brain:▯ make up lost of neurons by increasing processes at
synapses, increase myelination, create more connections.
• Age 55: good timing to practice some games involved in cognitive functions
• Death of neurons is inevitable as we aging
5 years old and 10 years old are the modal age for younger children
• Auditory filtering, dichotic listening: 10 years old and young adult are good at it, 5 years
old are not as good at it as 10 years old.
• Younger adults have better accuracy and faster in auditory and visual tasks compare to
• Visual filtering, older adults are more easily to be distracted. People> 85 are hard to
drive as it is difficult for them to focus and filter out distractions
• Stroop effect, in fMRI, older people have more brain area activated during stroop effect
• Negative priming, 10 years have more negative priming. 5 years old and elder have less,
because they have hard time to ignore the tobeignored items, they may not good at filtering
out one and focusing on another item or because they don’t understand the instruction.
• Viusal search Serial search), lots of electrophysiology and other types of neuroimaging
for visual search and for different ages. Performance at 5 is not good as 10years and young
adult. 5 years old is less good at performing symbolic cuing task. • Attention shift (voluntary goaldriven): good for 10 years old and young adults, not
for elderly and 5 years old
• Visual search( parallel attentive): same performance for all ages
• Typical IOR display: same performance for all ages
• Attention shift (reflexive stimulusdriven)： same
IOR in infants: 10 degrees away from the center fixation, both 3 and 6 months show IOR
10 degrees away from the center fixation, only 6 months show 30 degrees of IOR
It depends on the degree the saccade that the infants can make
Stimulusdriven (perceptual) attention processes are the first to fully develop and
the last to deteriorate,
Goal driven cognitive attentional processes are the last to fully develop and the
first to deteriorate.
What brain areas mediate attention? Attention’s critical brain areas:
• Reticular activating system (RAS), damaged cause coma. Overstimulate: hyperarousal
• Superior colliculus: spatial maps, activation within the map, computing the factors about
where our eyes are we currently are and where are we will go next.
Activate when people shift their attention without eye movement.
• Pulvinar (region of thalamus), receive inputs from all the sensory areas and then go to
sensory cortexes (Except