Theodore P. Zanto and Adam Gazzaley
This chapter addresses how normal ageing may affect selective attention, sustained attention, divided attention, task-switching, and attentional capture. It is not clear that all aspects of attention are affected by ageing, especially once changes in bottom-up sensory deficits or generalized slowing are taken into account. It also remains to be seen whether deficits in these abilities are evident when task demands are increased. Age-based declines have been reported during many tasks with low cognitive demands on various forms of attention. Fortunately, the older brain retains plasticity and cognitive training and exercise may help reduce negative effects of age on attention. Although no single theory of cognitive ageing may account for the various age-related changes in attention, many aspects have been taken into account, such as generalized slowing, reduced inhibitory processes, the retention of performance abilities via neural compensation, as well as declines in performance with increased task difficulty.