Brief report: Age differences in visual statistical learning

Karen L. Campbell*, M. Karl Healey, Michelle M.S. Lee, Shira Zimerman, Lynn Hasher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Recent work has shown that older adults' lessened inhibitory control leads them to inadvertently bind co-occurring targets and distractors. Although this hyper-binding effect may lead to the formation of more superfluous associations, and thus greater interference at retrieval for older adults, it may also lead to a greater knowledge of information contained within the periphery of awareness. On the basis of evidence that younger adults only show learning for statistical regularities contained within attended information, we asked whether older adults may also show learning for regularities contained within to-be-ignored information. Older and younger adults viewed a series of red and green pictures and performed a 1-back task on one of the colors. Unbeknownst to participants, both color streams were organized into triplets that occurred sequentially. Implicit memory for the triplets from both the attended and ignored streams was tested using a speeded detection task. Replicating previous work, younger adults demonstrated more learning for the attended triplets than the unattended triplets. Older adults, however, demonstrated similar learning for both the attended and ignored triplets, suggesting that contrary to popular belief, they may actually know more than younger adults about the world around them, including how seemingly irrelevant events co-occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-656
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Associative memory
  • Binding
  • Inhibition
  • Statistical learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Social Psychology
  • Aging


Dive into the research topics of 'Brief report: Age differences in visual statistical learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this