Developmental Differences in Endogenous Control & Attentional Capture

Hayre, R.K. (2021) Developmental Differences in Endogenous Control & Attentional Capture. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Aims: The ability to plan-ahead allows us to focus our attention at an early stage of processing and is said to facilitate our ability to ignore distractions. This thesis aimed to track the development of endogenous control across the lifespan and assess if this skill can prevent attentional capture from a salient distraction. I used the Cued Visual Search task to understand whether children and adults can maintain early cues to guide their attention towards a target and suppress a salient distracter.

Chapters 2-7: In Chapter 2, I designed and validated whether a shape singleton distracter could produce attentional capture. I included this item in the Cued Visual Search task introduced in Chapter 3 where I compared children’s (5-6 & 9-11 years) and young adults’ performance when endogenous cue-utilisation was encouraged vs discouraged. In Chapter 4, I examined the possibility of cross-colour priming effects within the Cued Visual Search task. Chapter 5 considered the role of block predictiveness for encouraging endogenous cue-use in children. In Chapter 6, I assessed if this skill is used similarly in the Cued Visual Search task and the AX-Continuous Performance Task in young and older adults. Chapter 7 manipulated search difficulty for a complex target to enhance cue-use and reduce capture.

Conclusions: The results suggest that endogenous control is still developing in early-childhood (5-6 years) but becomes adult-like by mid-childhood (9-11 years) and does not decline in seniority. Immature forms of this skill (5-6 years) are able to maintain an early task-goal but it is less effective under highly distracting situations. Indeed, this domain-specific skill is enacted differently depending on the demands of the task. Contrary to predictions, endogenous cue-utilisation was unable to prevent attentional capture at an early point in processing in children and adults but was reduced at a late point in processing. One reason for this could be due to the independence found between maintenance and inhibition abilities in Cued Visual Search from mid- childhood and onwards. Endogenous cues may create a variable task-goal that changes on a trial-by-trial basis, which make it difficult to suppress a distraction at an early stage of processing but this may reactivate the task-goal in the moment to avoid further capture. Overall, this thesis emphasises the development and limits of endogenous cue-utilisation for selectively focusing our attention.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Allen, H.A.
Cragg, L.
Keywords: Child development; attention; distraction; attentional capture; cognitive control; visual search; endogenous control
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 66976
Depositing User: Hayre, Rumandeep
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2021 15:49
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2021 04:41

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