The effects of age on visual expertise for print

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Progressive visual processing decline is a known factor in aging. The present study investigates the evolution of visual expertise for printed stimuli with aging. Fifty-five participants of increasing age (20–30, 40–50, 60–70, 75–85 years old) were recruited. Behavioral and EEG data were collected during a lexical decision task, in which words and symbol strings were presented. Analyses of EEG data focused mainly on three major points: visual expertise for print, automatization of the expertise and differences in attentional demand between the processing of words and symbols. Results indicated a preservation of visual expertise with age, with larger N170 amplitude for words than for symbols. Moreover, a decrease in stimulus processing speed was observed as a function of age. No difference in attentional demand as a function of stimulus was observed.

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