Distraction refers to something that makes it difficult for an individual to think or pay attention. Older people tend to be more easily distracted than younger adults, revealed a new study by the Cambridge Center for Aging and Neuroscience.
For the study, researchers showed 218 subjects aged 18-88 years an edited version of an episode from the Hitchcock TV series while using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure their brain activity. They found a surprising degree of similarity in the thought patterns among the younger subjects, their brains tended to 'light up' in similar ways and at similar points in the program. But, in older subjects, this similarity tended to disappear and their thought processes became more idiosyncratic, suggesting that they were responding differently to what they were watching and were possibly more distracted.
The study findings suggested that Karen Campbell of the University of Cambridge said, "As people age, their ability to control the focus of attention tends to decline, and they end up attending to more 'distracting' information than younger adults. The variety in brain patterns seen among older people reflected a difference in their ability to control their attention, as attentional capture by stimuli in the environment was known to be relatively preserved with age. There might be benefits to this distractibility."
The study is published in Neurobiology of Aging.