Abstract

Wetzel, N., Scharf, F., & Widmann, A. (in press). Can't ignore – distraction by task-irrelevant sounds in early and middle childhood. Child Development.

Can't ignore – distraction by task-irrelevant sounds in early and middle childhood

Attention control abilities are relevant for learning success. Little is known about the development of audio-visual attention in early childhood. Four groups of children between the ages of four and ten years and adults performed an audio-visual distraction paradigm (N=106). Multilevel-analyses revealed increased reaction times in a visual categorization task when task-irrelevant sounds were presented, demonstrating involuntary distraction of attention. This distraction effect decreased with age and significantly differed between age groups. Additionally, the two youngest age groups responded with a delay in trials following a distractor trial, indicating delayed reallocation of attention to the task at hand. Results indicate a significant maturation of audio-visual attention control within a few years during early childhood that continues throughout middle childhood.



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