Poster A122, Saturday, March 24, 1:30–3:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Age-related Differences in Selective Attention to Emotional Material: Does Task Relevance Matter?
Didem Pehlivanoglu1, Paul Verhaeghen1; 1Georgia Institute of Technology
We investigated the effect of aging on ERP correlates of inhibition functioning by employing a selective attention task which required younger and older adults to selectively attend to either pictures of difference valence categories (positive, negative, and neutral) or line bars, concurrently presented on the screen. In the picture task, subjects decided whether the picture was presented in black and white; in the bar task, they indicated whether the orientation of the bars matched or not. To ensure that the bar task was equally cognitively demanding for all participants, the difficulty of the bar task was calibrated individually prior to the experiment. In the picture task, there was no evidence of emotional processing in the behavioral data but ERPs provided evidence of an emotion salience effect in both age groups, especially during later time window. More importantly, this effect was more pronounced for positively valenced stimuli in the old relative to the young, suggesting a shift toward processing positive material with age. In the bar task, for both age groups, neither accuracy nor magnitude of ERPs during early and later processing stages differed as a function of distractor picture valence, suggesting efficient inhibition of task irrelevant pictures in the bar task across age.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Development & aging