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Title: The effects of healthy ageing on biological motion perception, attention and natural scene categorisation
Author: Agnew, Hannah Clare
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 6810
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2017
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Healthy ageing in the absence of neurodegenerative diseases is accompanied by a variety of perceptual and cognitive changes, which can occur on various distinct but interacting levels. Much research has been devoted to understanding how basic cognitive functions such as working memory and attention change with age. However, only more recently has age-related changes on perceptual functions been investigated, thus less is understood. My thesis aimed to address this gap in the literature, by exploring age-related changes in visual perception, specifically changes related to visual temporal processing of natural and biological stimuli. Also investigated was the extent to which age-related changes in perceptual and cognitive functions affect each other. Chapter 2 investigated the time course of visual processing of natural scene categorisation in older adults. Younger, young-old and old-old adults performed a go/no-go task, in which they had to respond to images of animals whilst ignoring images of landscapes. The results showed that the temporal processing of complex scenes is impaired in healthy older adults and this deficit becomes more pronounced with increasing age. Chapter 3 assessed whether age-related decline in biological motion perception is mediated by impaired attentional abilities. Younger and older adults performed a series of tasks assessing biological motion perception and visual attention. The results indicated that age-related changes in biological motion perception are not driven by general attentional decline. Lastly, Chapter 4 explored whether age-related changes in biological motion and attention tasks can be explained by differences in the allocation of attention. Younger and older adults performed a conjunctive visual search, and two biological motion tasks, while their eye movements were being tracked. The results illustrated that differences in the allocation of attention cannot explain age-related differences found on biological motion perception and attention tasks. Overall, my findings provide substantial evidence to suggest that both visual perceptual and cognitive abilities change with healthy ageing. However, my results also indicate that certain aspects of these two functions remain relatively preserved in older adulthood.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Motion perception (Vision) ; Attention ; Landscapes ; Aging