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ERIC Number: EJ1049586
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Older Adults Do Not Notice Their Names: A New Twist to a Classic Attention Task
Naveh-Benjamin, Moshe; Kilb, Angela; Maddox, Geoffrey B.; Thomas, Jenna; Fine, Hope C.; Chen, Tina; Cowan, Nelson
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v40 n6 p1540-1550 Nov 2014
Although working memory spans are, on average, lower for older adults than young adults, we demonstrate in 5 experiments a way in which older adults paradoxically resemble higher capacity young adults. Specifically, in a selective-listening task, older adults almost always failed to notice their names presented in an unattended channel. This is an exaggeration of what high-span young adults show and the opposite of what low-span young adults show. This striking finding in older adults remained significant after controlling for working memory span and for noticing their names in an attended channel. The findings were replicated when presentation rate was slowed and when the ear in which the unattended name was presented was controlled. These results point to an account of older adults' performance involving not only an inhibition factor, which allows high-span young adults to suppress the channel to be ignored, but also an attentional capacity factor, with more unallocated capacity. This capacity allows low-span young adults to notice their names much more often than older adults with comparably low working memory spans do.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (DHHS)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Missouri
Grant or Contract Numbers: R01- HD21338