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Haupt, Marleen ORCID: 0000-0003-1683-8679; Sorg, Christian; Napiorkowski, Natan; Finke, Kathrin ORCID: 0000-0001-8546-7141 (October 2018): Phasic alertness cues modulate visual processing speed in healthy aging. In: Neurobiology of Aging, Vol. 70: pp. 30-39
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Warning signals temporarily increase the rate of visual information in younger participants and thus optimize perception in critical situations. It is unclear whether such important preparatory processes are preserved in healthy aging. We parametrically assessed the effects of auditory alertness cues on visual processing speed and their time course using a whole report paradigm based on the computational Theory of Visual Attention. We replicated prior findings of significant alerting benefits in younger adults. In conditions with short cue-target onset asynchronies, this effect was baseline-dependent. As younger participants with high baseline speed did not show a profit, an inverted U-shaped function of phasic alerting and visual processing speed was implied. Older adults also showed a significant cue-induced benefit. Bayesian analyses indicated that the cueing benefit on visual processing speed was comparably strong across age groups. Our results indicate that in aging individuals, comparable to younger ones, perception is active and increased expectancy of the appearance of a relevant stimulus can increase the rate of visual information uptake.