Target-related distractors disrupt object selection in everyday action: Evidence from participants with dementia

Tania Giovannetti, Brianne Magouirk Bettcher, Laura Brennan, David J. Libon, Denene Wambach, Colette Seter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study evaluated the impact of distractor objects and their similarity to target objects on everyday task performance in dementia. Twenty participants with dementia due to Alzheimers disease (n = 12) or subcortical vascular disease (n = 8) were videotaped while they performed 3 discrete tasks: (1) make a cup of coffee, (2) wrap a gift, and (3) pack a lunch under two conditions that were counterbalanced across participants. The conditions differed in terms of the type of distractor objects included in the workspace: (1) Target-Related Distractor Condition - distractor objects were functionally and visually similar to target objects (e.g., salt for sugar) (2) Unrelated Distractor Condition - distractors were neither visually nor functionally similar to targets (e.g., glue for sugar). Participants touched (t = 4.19; p <.01) and used (z = 3.00; p <.01) significantly more distractors, made more distractor errors (i.e., substitutions; t = 2.93; p <.01), and took longer to complete tasks (t = 2.27; p <.05) in the Target-Related Distractor condition. The percent of steps accomplished and non-distractor errors did not differ across conditions (t < 1.26; p >.05 for both). In summary, distractors that were similar to targets elicited significant interference effects circumscribed to object selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-494
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Target-related distractors disrupt object selection in everyday action: Evidence from participants with dementia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this