Attention and Inhibitory Functioning
The first goal of our research is to understand the role that basic attentional processes play in the ability to understand language and remember events. Specifically, Dr. Hasher's research (along with Rose Zacks, Ph.D.) has focused on a viewpoint which suggests that an inhibition or suppression mechanism plays a central role in the ability to selectively attend to or ignore information and that that ability in turn influences memory and comprehension.
Inhibition has three functions which are all directed at the contents of working memory. Inhibition controls the access of information entering working memory; it deletes or suppresses once active information from working memory; and it restrains certain, prepotent information from seizing control of working memory so that other, less probable information can be considered.
The Hasher and Zacks viewpoint also assumes that this inhibition mechanism is less efficient in older adults leading to deficiencies in learning, retrieval and comprehension. Consequently, reduced inhibition may be evidenced by increased distractibility and forgetfulness in older adults.