Delayed reactive distractor suppression in aging populations

Brandon Ashinoff, Joy Geng, Carmel Mevorach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
386 Downloads (Pure)


Previous studies have tended to infer that reactive control is intact in aging populations because of evidence that proactive control is impaired and that older participants appear to favor reactive control strategies. However, most of these studies did not compare reactive control in young and older participants directly. In our study, a young (18 to 21 years old) and older (60+ years old) cohort engaged in a task that assesses reactive distractor suppression where participants had to discriminate between an upright and inverted T-shape in the presence of a salient or nonsalient distractor. In previous studies using this paradigm (DiQuattro & Geng, 2011) young participants reactively used the salient distractor as an anticue and performed better (faster reaction time [RT] and higher accuracy) when it was present. It was found that older participants were not able to reactively suppress the salient distractor with a 200-ms display but were able to do so with a 600-ms display. It was concluded that the initiation of reactive suppression is delayed for older participants, but that effective suppression is possible given enough time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-430
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number3
Early online date1 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Cognitive aging
  • Cognitive control
  • Distractor suppression
  • Reactive control
  • Salience suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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