Habekost, T., Vogel, A., Rostrup, E., Bundesen, C., Kyllingsbaek, S., Garde, E., Ryberg, C. & Waldemar, G. (2012). Visual processing speed in old age. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. Mental speed is a common concept in theories of cognitive aging, but it is difficult to get measures of the speed of a particular psychological process that are not confounded by the speed of other processes. We used Bundesen's (1990) Theory of Visual Attention (TVA) to obtain specific estimates of processing speed in the visual system controlled for the influence of response latency and individual variations of the perception threshold. A total of 33 non-demented old people (69-87 years) were tested for the ability to recognize briefly presented letters. Performance was analyzed by the TVA model. Visual processing speed decreased approximately linearly with age and was on average halved from 70 to 85 years. Less dramatic aging effects were found for the perception threshold and the visual apprehension span. In the visual domain, cognitive aging seems to be most clearly related to reductions in processing speed.
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 2013, Vol 54, Issue 2, p. 89-94