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Psychol Aging. 2011 Dec;26(4):932-9. doi: 10.1037/a0023297. Epub 2011 Apr 25.

Motivational incentives modulate age differences in visual perception.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


This study examined whether motivational incentives modulate age-related perceptual deficits. Younger and older adults performed a perceptual discrimination task in which bicolored stimuli had to be classified according to their dominating color. The valent color was associated with either a positive or negative payoff, whereas the neutral color was not associated with a payoff. Effects of incentives on perceptual efficiency and response bias were estimated using the diffusion model (Ratcliff, 1978). Perception of neutral stimuli showed age-related decline, whereas perception of valent stimuli, both positive and negative, showed no age difference. This finding is interpreted in terms of preserved top-down control over the allocation of perceptual processing resources in healthy aging.

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