Wetzel, N., Widmann, A., & Schröger, E. (2009). The cognitive control of distraction by novelty in children aged 7-8 and adults. Psychophysiology, 46(3), 607-616.

The cognitive control of distraction by novelty in children aged 7-8 and adults

The study focused on the development of cognitive control of distraction. Novel sounds were interspersed in a sequence of a constant environmental sound, while subjects were engaged in a task not related to novelty. In both children (7-8 years) and adults, unpredictable novel sounds caused prolonged reaction times (RT), the P3a and the Reorienting Negativity (RON) components of the event-related potential, indicating distraction and reorienting of attention. With predictable novels, RT prolongation and RON-amplitude were reduced in both groups, whereas P3a-amplitude reduction was confined to adults. Thus, although children reveal some indication for control of distraction, they do not yet achieve the level of adults. This differential pattern of the development of RT prolongation, P3a, and RON across age groups indicates different maturation of processes involved in the control of distraction and suggests partly independent underlying processes.


Cognitive and Biological Psychology

University of Leipzig
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Dagmar Schrödl
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