Investigating age differences in the influence of joint attention on working memory

Gregory, SEA ORCID: and Kessler, K 2022, 'Investigating age differences in the influence of joint attention on working memory' , Psychology and Aging . (In Press)

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Previous research has demonstrated that older adults make limited use of social cues as compared to younger adults. This has been investigated by testing the influence of gaze cues on attentional processes, with findings showing significantly smaller gaze cuing effects for older than younger adults. Here we aimed to investigate whether this would also result in age related differences in the influence of gaze cues on working memory. We therefore tested the effects of gaze cues from realistic human avatars on working memory across two experiments using dynamic head turns and more subtle eye gaze movements. We compared working memory for items looked at by the cue (congruent), looked away from by the cue (incongruent), and items shown when the cue looked down (neutral). Results demonstrated that for both older and younger adults, gaze cues influenced working memory processes, though there were some important differences related to the nature of the cue. When the cue made a dynamic head turn both younger and older adults showed an equivalent effect of gaze on attention. However, when only the eyes moved, while both the younger and older adults showed an effect of gaze on working memory, there appeared to be a difference in how the participants interpreted the neutral cue, with the older adults appearing to interpret the neutral cues in a similar way to the congruent cues. Overall, we provide important evidence that sharing attention benefits cognition across the lifespan. Keywords: gaze; social; attention; gaze cuing, joint attention

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Health Sciences Research
Journal or Publication Title: Psychology and Aging
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 0882-7974
Related URLs:
Funders: Leverhulme Trust
Depositing User: Dr Samantha Gregory
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2022 10:52
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2022 10:54

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