Experimental Brain Research

, 189:473 | Cite as

Selective attention modulates visual and haptic repetition priming: effects in aging and Alzheimer's disease

  • Soledad Ballesteros
  • José M. Reales
  • Julia Mayas
  • Morton A. Heller
Research Article


In two experiments, we examined the effect of selective attention at encoding on repetition priming in normal aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients for objects presented visually (experiment 1) or haptically (experiment 2). We used a repetition priming paradigm combined with a selective attention procedure at encoding. Reliable priming was found for both young adults and healthy older participants for visually presented pictures (experiment 1) as well as for haptically presented objects (experiment 2). However, this was only found for attended and not for unattended stimuli. The results suggest that independently of the perceptual modality, repetition priming requires attention at encoding and that perceptual facilitation is maintained in normal aging. However, AD patients did not show priming for attended stimuli, or for unattended visual or haptic objects. These findings suggest an early deficit of selective attention in AD. Results are discussed from a cognitive neuroscience approach.


Alzheimer's disease Aging Haptic repetition priming Selective attention Visual repetition priming 



The research reported in this paper was supported by grants from Dirección General de Investigación Científica y Técnica (SEJ 2004-00752) and Comunidad de Madrid (06-HSE-0205-2004 and MULTIMAG: S2006/BIO-0170). Julia Mayas was supported by a Predoctoral grant from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (Ref.: AP2003-0639). The authors thank Dr. José Luis Dobato, neurologist of the Hospital-Fundación Alcorcón, for the carefully evaluation of the Alzheimer's patients who participated in this study, and to Alicia Sanchez for her help in locating the elderly participants in the study and collecting data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Soledad Ballesteros
    • 1
  • José M. Reales
    • 1
  • Julia Mayas
    • 1
  • Morton A. Heller
    • 2
  1. 1.Facultad de PsicologíaUniversidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Eastern Illinois UniversityCharlestonUSA

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