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Connelly, S. L., Hasher, L., & Zacks, R. T. (1991). Age and reading: The impact of distraction. Psychology and Aging, 6, 533-541.


Older and younger adults read aloud and answered questions about texts that did or did not have distracting material intersperse amid target text. When present, distracting material occurred in a different type of font from that of target material. Across 2 experiments, distracting material was meaningless, meaningful but unrelated to the text, or meaningful and text related. Subjects were instructed to attend only to the target text. Reading time measures indicated that compared with younger adults, older adults have a more difficult time ignoring the distracting information, particularly information meaningfully related to target text. Verbal ability differences among older, but not younger, adults moderated distraction effects. Age differences in inhibitory attentional mechanisms were considered as processes of influencing distraction effects.

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