The forest, the trees, and the leaves across adulthood: Age-related changes on a visual search task containing three-level hierarchical stimuli

Sabrina Bouhassoun, Nicolas Poirel, Noah Hamlin, Gaelle E. Doucet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Selecting relevant visual information in complex scenes by processing either global information or local parts helps us act efficiently within our environment and achieve goals. A global advantage (faster global than local processing) and global interference (global processing interferes with local processing) comprise an evidentiary global precedence phenomenon in early adulthood. However, the impact of healthy aging on this phenomenon remains unclear. As such, we collected behavioral data during a visual search task, including three-levels hierarchical stimuli (i.e., global, intermediate, and local levels) with several hierarchical distractors, in 50 healthy adults (26 younger (mean age: 26 years) and 24 older (mean age: 62 years)). Results revealed that processing information presented at the global and intermediate levels was independent of age. Conversely, older adults were slower for local processing compared to the younger adults, suggesting lower efficiency to deal with visual distractors during detail-oriented visual search. Although healthy older adults continued exhibiting a global precedence phenomenon, they were disproportionately less efficient during local aspects of information processing, especially when multiple visual information was displayed. Our results could have important implications for many life situations by suggesting that visual information processing is impacted by healthy aging, even with similar visual stimuli objectively presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1004-1015
Number of pages12
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Volume84
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Healthy aging
  • Hierarchical stimuli
  • Local versus global
  • Visual processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language

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