chapter  5
61 Pages

Attention

WithArthur F. Kramer, David J. Madden

In the past decade a number of critical reviews of the literature on attention and aging have been published (e.g., Kramer & Kray, 2006; Madden & Whiting, 2004; Madden, Whiting, & Huettel, 2005a). Indeed, excellent chapters on aging and attention have appeared in the last two versions of this handbook (Hartley, 1992; McDowd & Shaw, 2000). Given the availability of these review chapters, some of which have been published in the past few years, how will we offer a novel perspective on this large and ever expanding literature? We plan to cover the central theoretical issues and recent empirical studies within this research domain, that is, the manner in which aging influences the control and expression of attention from both a selective and divided attention perspective. Our focus will be on behavioral studies of attention and aging, but we will also include recent neuroimaging studies that provide insights into changes in attentional processes across the adult lifespan. We will also discuss a number of issues not traditionally included in reviews of the attention and aging literature, for example: (a) whether expertise, often acquired in specific professions over several decades, can moderate age-related decline in attentional processes; (b) the extent to which practice or training on tasks that entail selective and/or divided attention have similar effects for younger and older adults; (c) the implications of age-related changes in attentional processes for extra-laboratory settings and tasks. Finally, we will conclude our chapter with suggestions for the future of

the study of aging and attention, in particular the interaction of attention with other fields of inquiry.