A Snapshot into Developmental Differences in Attention and Cognitive Control: An Eye Tracking Study
Abstract: The present study reveals how the presence of relevant and irrelevant spoken language affects the processing for visual information, and if this is mediated by executive function processes that develop from childhood (N = 10, age 4-10) to adolescence (N = 16, age 14-17) and through adulthood (N = 16, age 21-28). Participants engaged in a task in which they looked at visual stimuli organized within Areas of Interest (AOI’s) with no audio (1), with audio to facilitate memory (2), and distracting audio unrelated to visual stimuli (3) and were then asked to remember the visual stimuli they looked at, all while connected to an eye tracker. Results showed that there was no main effect of distraction or facilitation conditions on overall memory performance. However, there was a significant difference in memory performance between age-groups, with the children unexpectedly performing the best, followed by adults and then adolescents. Also, memory performance outcomes were not mediated by executive function. Dwell times, fixation counts, and fixation times between matching audio and visual information and non-matching audio and visual information were not significantly different. However, dwell time and fixation time were significantly affected by age, with children having lower times on both non-matches and matches. Limitations of the study and areas for future research are discussed.
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