Intra- and inter-task reliability of spatial attention measures in healthy older adults

Märker, G., Learmonth, G. , Thut, G. and Harvey, M. (2019) Intra- and inter-task reliability of spatial attention measures in healthy older adults. PLoS ONE, 14(12), e0226424. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226424) (PMID:31869372) (PMCID:PMC6927623)

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At present, there is a lack of systematic investigation into intra- and inter-task consistency effects in older adults, when investigating lateralised spatial attention. In young adults, spatial attention typically manifests itself in a processing advantage for the left side of space (“pseudoneglect”), whereas older adults have been reported to display no strongly lateralised bias, or a preference towards the right side. Building on our earlier study in young adults, we investigated older adults, aged between 60 to 86 years, on five commonly used spatial attention tasks (line bisection, landmark, grey and grating scales and lateralised visual detection). Results confirmed a stable test-retest reliability for each of the five spatial tasks across two testing days. However, contrary to our expectations of a consistent lack in bias or a rightward bias, two tasks elicited significant left spatial biases in our sample of older participants, in accordance with pseudoneglect (namely the line bisection and greyscales tasks), while the other three tasks (landmark, grating scales, and lateralised visual detection tasks) showed no significant biases to either side of space. This lack of inter-task correlations replicates recent findings in young adults. Comparing the two age groups revealed that only the landmark task was age sensitive, with a leftward bias in young adults and an eliminated bias in older adults. In view of these findings of no significant inter-task correlations, as well as the inconsistent directions of the observed spatial biases for the older adults across the five tested tasks, we argue that pseudoneglect is a multi-component phenomenon and highly task sensitive. Each task may engage slightly distinct neural mechanisms, likely to be impacted differently by age. This complicates generalisation and comparability of pseudoneglect effects across different tasks, age-groups and hence studies.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Thut, Professor Gregor and Learmonth, Dr Gemma and Harvey, Professor Monika and Maerker, Ms Gesine
Creator Roles:
Märker, G.Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Writing – original draft
Learmonth, G.Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Methodology, Writing – review and editing
Thut, G.Conceptualization, Writing – review and editing
Harvey, M.Conceptualization, Data curation, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Resources, Software, Supervision, Validation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Märker, G., Learmonth, G., Thut, G., and Harvey, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Märker et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 14(12): e0226424
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
300911Brain Rhythms in Altered Vision after Stroke (BRAVAS)Gemma LearmonthWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)209209/Z/17/ZPsychology