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This upbeat article from StudyFinds describes how two of three major components of attention and executive function actually increase with age. “Alerting is characterized by a state of enhanced vigilance and preparedness in order to respond to incoming information. Orienting involves shifting brain resources to a particular location. The executive network shuts out distracting or conflicting information.
“‘We use all three processes constantly. For example, when you are driving a car, alerting is your increased preparedness when you approach an intersection. Orienting occurs when you shift your attention to an unexpected movement, such as a pedestrian,’ explains first author Dr Joao Verissimo, of the University of Lisbon, ‘And executive function allows you to inhibit distractions such as birds or billboards so you can stay focused on driving.’
“Remarkably, only alerting abilities were found to decline with age. In contrast, both orienting and executive inhibition actually got better. The latter two skills allow people to selectively attend to objects, and improve with lifelong practice, explain the researchers. The gains can be large enough to outweigh any underlying neural reductions.”
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