Implicit temporal orienting of attention is preserved in healthy aging
Hunter Johndro1, Monica Lyons1, Aniruddh D. Patel1, Elizabeth Race1; 1Tufts University
Temporal predictions can increase attention to particular points in time and optimize behavioral performance. Temporal orienting has been proposed to occur in two distinct manners (Coull & Nobre, 2008). Explicit (endogenous) orienting occurs in a top-down, voluntary manner when symbolic cues explicitly direct attention in time. Implicit (exogenous) orienting occurs in an automatic, bottom-up manner when rhythmic or temporally-structured stimuli implicitly direct attention in time. In young adults, both explicit (Rohenkohl et al., 2011, 2012) and implicit (Escoffier et al., 2010; Kunert & Johngman, 2017; Large & Jones, 1999) temporal orienting have been shown to entrain neural oscillations and enhance perception. However, the extent to which temporal orienting is preserved in older adults is a matter of debate. Evidence from explicit orienting tasks has been mixed (Chauvin et al., 2016; Zanto & Gazzaley, 2014), and little is known about the status of implicit temporal orienting. The current study tested whether implicit temporal orienting is preserved with age by having younger and older adults perform a visual discrimination task in the context of background, rhythmic music or in silence. In both groups, discrimination was faster for stimuli appearing at predicted (on-beat) compared to unpredicted (off-beat) moments in time. This effect was greatest in individuals with better capacities to discriminate musical beats. These results indicate that implicit temporal orienting of attention can be preserved in aging. Future work can investigate whether these individual differences in implicit temporal orienting reflect age-related variability in neural entrainment to rhythm (Henry et al., 2016).
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Development & aging