Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Karlene Ball, Bettina Beard, Daniel Roenker

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Previous studies have indicated that the useful or functional field of view is a dynamic visual measure. Specifically, it has been shown to constrict as a function of increasing ago, decreasing target duration, decreased conspicuity, and to expand as a function of practice. Two possible explanations for the age-related decline were examined: (1) older observers have a deficit in selective attention which prevents them from ignoring irrelevant information, thereby making a target lees conspicuous, and (2) the time required to process a given visual area increases with age. The purpose of this study was to determine which of these explanations would most likely account for the age -related constriction of the useful field of view.

Four young, five middle-aged, and five older observers were each tested at five brief target durations on two versions of a peripheral localization task: one with distractors and a similar teak without distractors. Both tasks employed a concurrent focal task. All observers were then trained for five consecutive sessions on the same peripheral localization task with distractors, followed by post-training tooting on both tasks. As expected, errors in radial localization performance increased with age and also at greater eccentricities for both tasks. Only the middle-aged observers demonstrated significant improvement on both tasks as a result of practice. Young observers, however, performed so well initially that little room was left for improvement. Conversely, older observers performed poorly before and after training reflecting the age-related difficulty of the tasks. Overall, the results were consistent with the hypothesis that the time required to process a given visual area increases with age.


Health Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences