What is it about?

The study investigated the development of a mechanism of visual attention “visual marking” which enables ignoring distractors that have been present in the visual space at different points in time. The purpose of the mechanism is to help “filter” irrelevant information, and to direct attention towards newly arriving information that is goal-relevant. Much like it would be the case in real – life contexts, all the objects displayed were in motion. We found that children’s mechanism to ignore such moving distractors are not developed in 6-year-olds, only partially in 8-year-olds, and are fully functional by the age of 12. The ability to ignore visual stimuli in motion over time, showed some links to executive functions, namely inhibition. The study suggests that attentional mechanisms for objects in motion may have a protracted trajectory in comparison to stationary stimuli (Zupan et al., 2018).

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Why is it important?

The majority of research exploring the development of children’s attention has focused on stationary stimuli, involving no temporal context. This study suggests that attentional mechanisms for stimuli in motion may require longer maturation. Until the age of 12 years, children's attention may be particularly vulnerable to moving distractors. Besides providing a fundamental understanding of children’s attention, this finding has implications for all applied areas that involve processing of moving objects, such as road safety.

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This page is a summary of: Development of dynamic attention: Time-based visual selection for objects in motion between 6–12 years of age., Developmental Psychology, September 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/dev0001462.
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