Attention is something everyone has, yet it has different varying degrees of how it is used consciously and unconsciously. Attention as defined by the American Psychological Association is a state of focused awareness on a subset of the available perceptual information. When people attend to the information consciously it is known as the top-down process and when information grabs our attention that is otherwise known as the bottom-up process. Since every person is diverse their attention span varies too.
When it comes to children and adults there is the possibility that the ability to be attentive may be different in terms capacity. One of the few types of attentions is categorized as divided attention. When defining divided attention it could be described as when a person is concentrating on more than one thing at a time. Divided attention can happen when the person is participating in dual task situation. Therefore multitasking has the chance of decrease in the overall quality performance.
As observed in an experiment “Dual task cost were found, but there were no age-related differences in these costs in older relative to younger adults” (Anderson, Bayliss, Bucks, & Sala, 2011). As seen with this study the age of the participations did not play a major role in how they were able to divide their attention and perform the two tasks at hand. Although this is just one study there are many more that test the attention capacity of how multitasking can effect both young and old individuals. Another type of attention is that could differ among age is selective attention.
Selective attention is when one person focuses on just one stimulus while ignoring all the other ones. Although we may be gathering information from our surrounding environment that does not necessarily mean we are taking everything in. In actuality humans are filtering out part of the information while some of the other information goes on for further processing in the brain. A study done by Karns, Isbell, Giuliano, and Neville (2015) observed the results of dichotic listening experiment with participates ranging from the age of 3-16 years old.
It found that the younger children were not able to selectively allocate attention changes particularly in noisy environments with competing speech stimuli. This particular study of people in different age groups did show somewhat of a difference in results when there were multiple stimuli being presented simultaneously instead of just one. The attentiveness results exhibit that the possibility of age can have an effect on this category of selective attentiveness.
Over years people have continued to research and develop hypotheses about rather age is an important factor in terms of attention capabilities. This information can help further information of how we learn and memory. Attention is an important concept when it comes to cognitive functions and with improved knowledge about this subject future research can only be improved on. Literature Review Research studies on attention emphasized testing participate with more than one stimulus being presented. Researchers also make emphasize to try their experiments on different age groups.
In the discussion section of a study that tested the effect of dual task performance of both adults and children concluded that “Moreover, older adults produced significantly slower reaction times than did younger adults in all conditions, and especially when they performed the dual task” (Anderson, Bayliss, Bucks, & Sala, 2011). What they did was gather healthy participates ranging from the age of 17 through age of 81 of both male and female. They sat them down in front of a computer and had them listen to a list of numbers being said by the computer.
Then they had to repeat the list of numbers in the correct sequence verbally. These results are similar to another experiment in which dual task on younger adults and older adults are tested. The study had participants use a simulated street crossing task constructed in an immersive virtual environment with an integrated treadmill so that participants could walk as they would in the real world. Participants were asked to cross simulated streets of varying difficulty while either undistracted, listening to music, or conversing on a cell phone (Neider, Gaspar, McCarley, Crowell, Kaczmarski, & Kramer, 2011).
Their results exhibited that the older adults were more likely to have dual task impairments then the younger adults especially when the crossing task was difficult. The performance of the older adults usually took more time to complete and interestingly if they were conversing on a cell phone they were less likely to complete crossing when compared to being undistracted or listening to music. These similar results show that when it comes to multitasking in these cases that age can make a difference and that older people aren’t necessarily the best when it comes to doing multiple activities at once.
Another experiment in which the two different age groups of younger and older people are tested yields similar results of the two experiments mentioned above. An experiment by Clapp, Rubens, Sabharwal, and Gazzaley (2011) results indicated that the older adults had a slower reaction time to the stimuli then the younger people. They used a healthy groups of people sat them in front of a screen and presented grayscale images of faces and scenes which were novel across all tasks, all runs, and all trials of the experiment.
They were told to hold onto the certain image in their mind and with a delayed period in between and with an interfering stimulus, were prompted to respond to a simple question regarding the image of the face they had just seen. It concluded that multitasking negatively influences the retention of information over brief periods of time. Although all three of the journals differentiate in their methods of testing they all have were consistent on the end result of how divided and/or selective attention were more difficult for the older participates when presented with many task or stimuli at once.