Attention and Aging: A Functional Perspective

Document Type

Book Chapter - Merrimack Access Only


2nd Edition


Fergus I.M. Craik

Timothy A. Salthouse

Publication Title

Handbook of Aging and Cognition



Publication Date


Publisher location

Mahwah, NJ

Abstract/ Summary

In the psychologist's search for the cause of age-related cognitive changes, there is frequently an expectation that there will be a single underlying mechanism responsible for many, if not all, observable developmental changes. Age-related changes in attention have been cited as the basis for a variety of age-related behavioral inefficiencies and have been the focus of both empirical and theoretical work designed to understand these inefficiencies. The goal of the present chapter is to review data related to age differences in attentional competence (primarily for those data that have been published since the previous edition of the handbook; see Hartley, 1992), to discuss the functional consequences of such differences, and to consider the theoretical constructs hypothesized to account for the findings.