ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (Suppl.): 48-.

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Distinct developmental patterns in Attentional Selection and Suppression

Meirong Sun; Encong Wang; Ye Tao; Jing Huang; Chenguang Zhao; Jialang Guo; Yan Song   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning & IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Xinjiekouwai Street 19, Haidian District, Beijing, China, 100875
    Center for Collaboration and Innovation in Brain and Learning Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Xinjiekouwai Street 19, Haidian District, Beijing, China, 100875
  • Online:2016-12-31 Published:2016-12-31


PURPOSE: The current study sought to identify the neurophysiological bases of development in covert spatial attention, focusing on electroencephalographic (EEG) markers of attentional selection (N2pc) and suppression (PD).
METHODS: EEG data were collected from healthy young adults (aged 19–29 years) and typically developing children (ages 9–15 years), while they searched for a shape singleton target either with the absence (Experiment 1) or presence (Experiment 2) of a task-irrelevant color singleton distractor.
RESULTS: The results showed that the lateral shape target elicited a prolonged and smaller N2pc in children (n = 25) compared to adults (n = 28) in Experiment 1. Moreover, the target-elicited N2pc was followed by a similar positivity in both children and adults. In Experiment 2, we replicated the reduced target-elicited N2pc in children. Counterintuitively, the lateral salient-but-irrelevant color distractor elicited a larger PD in children (n = 22) than in adults (n = 31). We found no evidence for a correlation between the reduced target-elicited N2pc and the increased distractor-elicit PD in children.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results provide neurophysiological evidence that covert spatial attention in children of 9-15 years old is still undergoing significant development. Compared to adults, children deploy insufficient attention resources to the targets and use more attentional suppression to resist to the silent-but-irrelevant distractors. However, the development of target selection and distractor suppression might depend on distinct cognitive mechanisms.

Key words: attentional selection, attentional suppression, development, N2pc, PD