ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2009, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (05): 424-432.

• • 上一篇    下一篇



  1. 北京大学心理学系,北京 100871
  • 收稿日期:2008-01-31 修回日期:1900-01-01 发布日期:2009-05-30 出版日期:2009-05-30
  • 通讯作者: 吴艳红

The Declined Inhibitory Control Influences the Aging of Perceptual Grouping

XIE Ning;WANG Cheng;WU Yan-Hong   

  1. Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2008-01-31 Revised:1900-01-01 Online:2009-05-30 Published:2009-05-30
  • Contact: WU Yan-Hong

摘要: 通过比较注意线索对老年人和年轻人共线性和相似性知觉组织的影响,探讨了知觉组织老年化的原因。研究发现,注意线索对年轻人的助益更大,对老年人的助益较小,符合抑制控制理论的研究假设,同时本文还对加工速度、基本感觉能力等可能引起认知老年化的因素进行了分析。此外,还发现了知觉组织中与阅读习惯一致的方向偏好,无论在有无注意线索的条件下,135°方向上的知觉组织都快于45°方向上的知觉组织。

Abstract: Perceptual grouping is a function of the human perceptual system to organize discrete entities in the visual field into chunks or perceptual objects for higher order processing (Han et al, 2002). Previous research has found that young adults respond faster to perceptual groups defined by collinearity than by similarity and that the reaction times are shorter when valid cues are employed to engage visual attention in the target orientation. The present study examined the two types of perceptual grouping in different age groups, with the purpose of clarifying cognitive mechanisms underlying age-related decline in perceptual grouping. The processing-speed theory or the sensory theory of aging predicts that the perceptual grouping capacity of the elderly declines more sharply in difficult grouping (grouping by similarity) and in difficult conditions (without cues) than in easy grouping (grouping by colliearity) and in easy conditions (with cues). However, the Hasher-Zacks (1988)’s theory, which attributes the age-related decline to reduced efficiency of inhibitory control, predicts that the cues will benefit the elderly to a less extent than younger adults and that the detection of the two types of grouping will decline by the same rate in the elderly.
To test these predictions, this study employed two types of grouping stimuli under uncued (Exp.1) and cued (Exp.2) conditions. Sixteen old adults and sixteen undergraduate students participated in both experiments. Each experiment consisted of two sections with a single type of grouping in each section. Stimuli were displayed on a gray background (25.1 cd/m2) with 1024×768 graphic resolution. Each stimulus array consisted of a configuration of Gabor patches (see Fig. 1). The central Gabor patch was orientated either 45° or 135° in visual angel and was flanked by two pairs of patches in an ‘X’ configuration. One pair of flankers were either collinear with or similar to the central Gabor patch in the target displays, which were mixed with catch displays in which no perceptual grouping can be detected between Gabor patches. Participants were asked to press spacebar with the index finger when they detected a target Gabor grouping. The response hand and the order of grouping type were counter-balanced over the participants.
A repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that the older adults responded more slowly than the younger group and that both groups of participants responded faster to grouping by collinearity than by similarity. A significant interaction was detected between the cue benefit and age group, with the cues helping younger group to a greater extent. No interaction was found between grouping type and age group. Moreover, an advantage of perceptual grouping was observed in the orientation of 135°, relative to the orientation of 45°, regardless of the availability of cues, suggesting a probable influence of left-to-right reading habits on perception.
These results demonstrate that while the processing speeds decline by the same rate in the two types of perceptual grouping, the cue to the target orientation benefits age groups differently, with younger adults getting a greater benefit than older adults. These findings are consistent with Hasher & Zack’s theory, suggesting that the reduced inhibitory efficiency contributes to the decline in perceptual grouping.

Key words: Perceptual grouping, Aging, Attention, Directional Bias