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Does Prior Knowledge Affect Distraction? The Effects of Aging and Music Expertise on Reading with Distraction Elizabeth R. Graham, 1,2 Gabrielle Osborne,

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Presentation on theme: "Does Prior Knowledge Affect Distraction? The Effects of Aging and Music Expertise on Reading with Distraction Elizabeth R. Graham, 1,2 Gabrielle Osborne,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Does Prior Knowledge Affect Distraction? The Effects of Aging and Music Expertise on Reading with Distraction Elizabeth R. Graham, 1,2 Gabrielle Osborne, 1,2 and Deborah Burke 2 1 Claremont Graduate University 2 Pomona College Introduction The effect of visual distraction during reading is greater for older than young adults, especially when the distracting material is semantically related to the text (e.g., Connelly, Hasher, & Zacks, 1991). Inhibitory Deficit (ID) model: Inhibitory processes decline with aging, reducing the ability to block distracters from entering working memory (Hasher, Lustig & Zacks, 2007). Semantically related distracters produce greater interference in older than young adults because they trigger greater spreading activation or more attention in older adults, as a result of inhibition deficits. Semantic Enhancement (SM) model: The greater language experience of older adults increases connections in their semantic network, increasing semantic priming and interference from semantically related distracters (Laver & Burke, 1993; Taylor & Burke, 2002). This is unrelated to inhibition processes. Sensory Deficits: Older adults’ greater overall distraction effects are because they have greater difficulty visually discriminating target text from distracters (Burke & Osborne, 2007). Predictions: If the richness of relevant semantic representations is controlled across age by equating relevant background knowledge, the SM model predicts related distracters will have comparable effects on reading interference regardless of age. The ID model predicts a greater effect of related distracters for older adults because the interference is caused by inhibition deficits. Method Participants 48 young (M = 20) and 48 older (M = 72) adults. 24 in each age group had high levels of background knowledge about classical music, while the other 24 had little experience with classical music. All were native English speakers. Materials 12 passages in 13 pt font (M words = 125); half related to classical music (e.g. attending a concert) and half control passages related to animals (e.g. bird watching). Passages were modified by adding 4 distracting words/phrases that were either semantically related or unrelated to the passage. Each distracter appeared in the passage 10 times. Distracter type (none, related distracters, unrelated distracters) occurred equally often for each passage type (music or animal) within participants and assignment of distracter type to a passage was counterbalanced across subjects. Examples of Passages No Distraction: THE CLASS ASSIGNMENT As a final project for his music composition class, Dave’s assignment was to write an original piece of music that could be performed by the other members of the class. He was inspired by one of his favorite composers, Gershwin, and he decided to write a short concerto for the piano... Related Distraction: THE CLASS ASSIGNMENT As fantasia a final downbeat project for his coda music composition Dvorak class, Dave’s downbeat assignment was to Dvorak write an original coda piece of fantasia music that Dvorak could be downbeat performed by fantasia the other coda members of the fantasia class. He was inspired by downbeat one of his favorite composers, Gershwin Dvorak, and he decided to write a short fantasia concerto for the piano... Unrelated Distraction: THE CLASS ASSIGNMENT As mushroom a final pickle project for his cuisine music composition Julia Child class, Dave’s pickle assignment was to Julia Child write an original cuisine piece of mushroom music that Julia Child could be pickle performed by mushroom the other cuisine members of the mushroom class. He was inspired by pickle one of his favorite composers, Gershwin Julia Child, and he decided to write a short mushroom concerto for the piano... Method Procedure Participants were instructed to read the passages aloud, ignoring italicized text. 2 practice passages were followed by 12 experimental passages and then a recognition test consisting of all target and distracter words plus 48 new words. Results Reading Times To account for baseline age differences in reading speed, we analyzed the proportional increase for the distracter conditions compared to the no-distraction. Distraction effect = (mean RT for distraction condition – mean RT no-distraction condition) mean RT no-distraction condition Figures 1a and 1b show proportional distracter effects for participants with no music expertise for control (animal) passages and music passages, respectively. Greater distraction effects for older than young adults in the related distracter condition (p <.01) as in previous studies. Passage type did not moderate the related distracter effect because these participants were not music experts. Figures 2a and 2b show proportional distracter effects for high musical knowledge participants for control passages and music passages (respectively). In control passages, neither young nor older adults show an effect of relatedness of distracters, although older adults show more interference overall. In music passages, related distracters produced more interference than unrelated distracters, and this effect did not vary with age. Thus when knowledge of the passage and distracter topic is carefully controlled, there are no age differences in distracter relatedness effects. Older adults showed greater interference from distraction overall, but the relatedness of the distracters was irrelevant to the age effect. Results Recognition Data Recognition was calculated as the proportion of hits minus proportion of false alarms. Figures 3a and 3b show recognition scores for low musical knowledge participants for words that appeared in control and music passages (respectively). Older adults’ recognition was less accurate than young adults especially with music passages. Target words were more likely to be correctly recognized than distracters, and the effect was larger for young than older adults, but only in music passages. Bonferroni adjusted (α =.0125) post-hoc comparisons revealed significant differences in target versus distracter recognition for both young and older adults, but only for words that had appeared in the music passages. This difference between passages contrasts with the interference effects in reading time where distracter relatedness effects were greater for older adults and did not differ with passage. Figures 4a and 4b show recognition scores for high musical knowledge participants for words that appeared in control and music passages respectively. Older adults’ recognition was less accurate than young adults especially with music passages, as found for low knowledge participants. However, there was no significant difference in recognition of targets versus distracters for either older or young adults. This contrasts with the low knowledge participants. Thus when knowledge of the passage and distracter topic is carefully controlled, there are no age differences in recognition of distracters relative to targets. Results Acuity Correlations between acuity (Snellen score) and proportional distraction were tested for older adults, separately for control and music passages. Control passages: Significant positive correlation between acuity and proportional distraction with both related (r =.302, p =.037) and unrelated (r =.391, p =.006) distracters. (worse acuity -> more distraction) Music passages: No significant correlations. Conclusions Reading Times High knowledge readers demonstrated greater interference from semantically related distracters only when reading passages relevant to their enhanced knowledge (i.e. the music passages). Importantly, this effect did not differ by age, as predicted by the semantic network model. Also as predicted, among low knowledge participants, the relatedness effect was greater for older than young adults in the music passages. By contrast, an inhibitory deficit model predicts a greater distraction effect from related versus unrelated distracters for older adults compared to young adults. This interaction should occur regardless of knowledge level or the theme of the passage because relatedness effects increase with inhibition deficits under this model. Recognition A difference in recognition accuracy for distracters compared to targets was greater for young than older adults in music passages, but only for low knowledge adults. This age difference was eliminated in the high knowledge group. The inhibition deficit model predicts that the difference in recognition for targets and distracters will be greater for young compared to older adults regardless of knowledge level or the theme of the passage. The observed results are consistent with the semantic enhancement model because high knowledge increases semantic processing improving recognition. Acuity Acuity is only one of several visual functions that declines with age. Reduced acuity was related to greater interference in older adults for control passages, but not music passages. Further research is needed to understand the passage effect. References Burke, D.M. & Osborne, G. (2007). Aging and inhibition deficits: Where are the effects? In D. Gorfein & C. MacLeod (Eds.), On the place of inhibitory processes in cognition (pp ). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press. Connelly, S. L., Hasher, L., & Zacks, R. T. (1991). Age and reading: The impact of distraction. Psychology and Aging, 6, Hasher, L., Lustig, C., & Zacks, R. (2007). Inhibitory mechanisms and the control of attention. In A. Conway, C. Jarrold, M. Kane, A. Miyake, & J. Towse (Eds). Variation in working memory (pp ). New York: Oxford University Press. Laver, G. D., & Burke, D. M. (1993). Why do semantic priming effects increase in old age? A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 8, Taylor, J. K., & Burke, D. M. (2002). Asymmetric aging effect on semantic and phonological processes: Naming in the picture-word interference task. Psychology and Aging, 17, a2b 1b1a * 4b 4a 3b3a


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