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Age-related differences in selection by visual saliency

Tsvetanov, Kamen A.; Mevorach, Carmel; Allen, Harriet A.; Humphreys, Glyn W.


Kamen A. Tsvetanov

Carmel Mevorach

Professor of Lifespan Psychology

Glyn W. Humphreys


We examined the ability of older adults to select local and global stimuli varying in perceptual saliency – a task requiring non-spatial visual selection. Participants were asked to identify in separate blocks a target at either the global or local level of a hierarchical stimulus, while the saliency of each level was varied (across different conditions either the local or the global form was the more salient and relatively easier to identify). Older adults were less efficient than young adults in ignoring distractors that were higher in saliency than targets, and this occurred across both the global and local levels of form. The increased effects of distractor saliency on older adults occurred even when the effects were scaled by overall differences in task performance. The data provide evidence for an age-related decline in non spatial attentional selection of low-salient hierarchical stimuli, not determined by the (global or local) level at which selection was required. We discuss the implications of these results for understanding both the interaction between saliency and hierarchical processing and the effects of aging on non-spatial visual attention.


Tsvetanov, K. A., Mevorach, C., Allen, H. A., & Humphreys, G. W. (2013). Age-related differences in selection by visual saliency. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 75(7),

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2013
Deposit Date Nov 18, 2014
Publicly Available Date Nov 18, 2014
Journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics
Print ISSN 1943-3921
Electronic ISSN 1943-393X
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 75
Issue 7
Keywords Saliency . Nonspatial visual attention . Aging .
Global and local processing; Inhibition deficit theory;
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information The final publication is available at Springer via


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