Monday, February 07, 2005

Sensitivity to Detail or Whole? More Visual Processing and Attention Differences with Age

The title of this news article is a bit misleading, but the research results are still interesting. We are really just beginning to understand the differences that exist in the ways we see. This recent report in Neuron highlights the tension between sensitivity to visual detail and sensitivity to visual whole. Younger subjects were better at detecting the movement of small details, whereas seniors were better at detect larger movements. You can't have it both ways, it seems.

Some of the paradoxes that occur with visual distractible children is that they may notice more details but miss the forest for the trees. Visual processing will change with age, but it's important to realize that a particular strength in one area, may mean weakness in the other. Visual distractibility is not simply a negative - like a global lack of attention. It also accompanies a talent for 'seeing what others miss'. Perhaps this is why 'I Spy' or 'Where's Waldo' is so popular among the young?

Visual Sensitivity to Detail or Whole? Change with Age

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