Idiosyncratic responding during movie-watching predicted by age differences in attentional control

Karen L. Campbell*, Meredith A. Shafto, Paul Wright, Kamen A. Tsvetanov, Linda Geerligs, Rhodri Cusack, Lorraine K. Tyler, Carol Brayne, Ed Bullmore, Andrew Calder, Tim Dalgleish, John Duncan, Rik Henson, Fiona Matthews, William Marslen-Wilson, James Rowe, Teresa Cheung, Simon Davis, Rogier Kievit, Anna McCarreyDarren Price, Jason Taylor, Nitin Williams, Lauren Bates, Tina Emery, Sharon Erzinçlioglu, Andrew Gadie, Sofia Gerbase, Stanimira Georgieva, Claire Hanley, Beth Parkin, David Troy, Jodie Allen, Gillian Amery, Liana Amunts, Anne Barcroft, Amanda Castle, Cheryl Dias, Jonathan Dowrick, Melissa Fair, Hayley Fisher, Anna Goulding, Adarsh Grewal, Geoff Hale, Andrew Hilton, Frances Johnson, Patricia Johnston, Thea Kavanagh-Williamson, Magdalena Kwasniewska, Alison McMinn, Kim Norman, Jessica Penrose, Fiona Roby, Diane Rowland, John Sargeant, Maggie Squire, Beth Stevens, Aldabra Stoddart, Cheryl Stone, Tracy Thompson, Ozlem Yazlik, Marie Dixon, Dan Barnes, Jaya Hillman, Joanne Mitchell, Laura Villis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Much is known about how age affects the brain during tightly controlled, though largely contrived, experiments, but do these effects extrapolate to everyday life? Naturalistic stimuli, such as movies, closely mimic the real world and provide a window onto the brain's ability to respond in a timely and measured fashion to complex, everyday events. Young adults respond to these stimuli in a highly synchronized fashion, but it remains to be seen how age affects neural responsiveness during naturalistic viewing. To this end, we scanned a large (N = 218), population-based sample from the Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN) during movie-watching. Intersubject synchronization declined with age, such that older adults' response to the movie was more idiosyncratic. This decreased synchrony related to cognitive measures sensitive to attentional control. Our findings suggest that neural responsivity changes with age, which likely has important implications for real-world event comprehension and memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3045-3055
Number of pages11
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Aging
  • Attentional control
  • FMRI
  • Independent components analysis
  • Intersubject correlation
  • Natural vision


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