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Lecture 5

PSY313H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Stroop Effect, Inhibitory Control Test, Visual Search


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY313H1
Professor
Taryn Grieder
Lecture
5

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Lecture 5 Basic Cognitive Functions: Information Processing, Attention and Memory
Cognition describes the way the mind works
o Attention, memory, intelligence, problem-solving, language and executive
function
Aging affects each area of cognition and ADLs/IADLs
Cognitive Load
Multi-tasking
o Amount of mental effort
o Improves mental efficiency
Mental breaks recharge, i.e. multi-tasking during all-nights are disadvantageous, instead
walk for 5 mins, look out a window
Processing Speed
The amount of time it takes for a person to analyze incoming sensory information,
formulate decisions and prepare a response
Psychomotor speed (physical movement related to conscious cognitive processing)
CNS integrity affects processing speed
Measured by reaction time (target, distractors)
o Simple RT task: respond quickly as soon as target appears, e.g. “press J when
light appears”
o Choice RT task: respond after making a decision about a stimulus e.g. “press J
for left and K for right”
o You could add distractors and see how it affects processing speed
o Reaction time slows with age: 1/10th sec individual variability
According to Brinley plot, deviation of dots from the diagonal line shows
the extent to which OA are disproportionately slower compared to YA as
the task becomes more difficult
o General slowing hypothesis: loss of speed in the nervous system is the main
cause of poorer information processing
o Age-complexity hypothesis: performance differences due to age increase as
tasks become more complex, stretching processing resources
Attention
Describes ability to focus/concentrate on a portion of experience while ignoring other
features of the experience
o Able to shift that focus as demanded by the situation;
o And to be able to coordinate information from multiple sources
o Focused vs divided attention (weaker strength of focus)
Attentional tasks:
o Simple visual search: parallel processing (processing all items simultaneously)
OA and YA have similar high levels
o Conjunction visual search: serial processing (processing one item at a time)
OA and YA are similarly slower at this task
Cost to performance higher but more experienced
Background cues, training
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Multi-tasking
o Can you monitor multiple input sources?
o Quality of performance affected by multi-tasking
Facebook and/or texting in class lowers academic performance scores
(Junco, 2012)
o Inhibitory control Stroop test (executive functioning test)
Better inhibitory control = better Stroop test performance
OA that performance well can activate various areas of the brain
Sustained attention: response when target appears in a stream of stimuli (maintaining
attention until response is needed)
o OA typically score lower than YA
Aging and attention
o Not all abilities decline, i.e. OA are just as good (or better) at remembering the
location of an item in a visual display
o Neural plasticity
o Experience leads to improvements
Theories about aging and attention
o Attentional resources theory: aging reduces available cognitive resources
o Inhibitory deficit hypothesis: aging reduces the ability to tune out irrelevant
information
Using EEG, they found event-related potentials (ERPs) in PFC
OA less likely to suppress distractions distracted increased
PFC activity
So… less distractions = better performance
o Stress, environment, white noise
Action Video Games
Young adults
o Improved attentional capacity (especially if they are hardcore gamers)
o Faster reaction time (performance accuracy preserved)
o Ability to process rapidly changing stream of information (sustained attention)
o Focused input
Used as a training tool for patients with ADHD and ASD:
o Peripheral attention (useful field of view (UFOV) = how well you can respond to
different stimuli appearing in periphery)
o Processing rapid input
o Keeping track of multiple targets
Older adults
o Prefer casual PC games (not 1st person shooter)
Driving and Aging
OA have decreased RT and attention as well as age-related visual and physical changes
Transport Canada (2011): the highest number of traffic fatalities occurred among adults
aged 65+ (417), with the 2nd highest among those aged 25-34 (312)
Alcohol-related deaths highest among those aged 20-25 > 26-35 > 36-45
o So… who is the superior driver?
Young adults
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