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

Samantha E. A. Gregory, Klaus Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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 (WM). 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 life span.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-741
JournalPsychology and Aging
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 American Psychological Association. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, upon publication, at: https://doi.org/10.1037/pag0000694

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Leverhulme Trust early career fellowship (ECF-2018-130) awarded to Samantha E. A. Gregory.

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Gaze
  • Gaze cuing
  • Joint attention
  • Social

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