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Attention during *action in infancy

Renee L Carrico, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Throughout development, infants are continually adding new skills to their behavioral, cognitive and perceptual repertoire. During the period in which these skills are new, they require some degree of controlled processing, and present the potential to reduce resources available for other cognitive or motor activities. The current study examined the function of attention in managing concurrent demands of cognitive and perceptual-motor processes in 24 month-old children. A primary cognitive task (nonspatial working memory search) was combined with one of three secondary action tasks (requiring high, reduced, or minimal levels of controlled processing), in order to tax attentional resources to the point that performance on the primary search task would suffer. Significant disruptions in search performance were observed with the introduction of a secondary task, but the expected differential interference effects based on level of controlled processing were largely absent. Those conditions which required controlled processing showed no added interference compared to conditions with lessened or no controlled processing requirements. The primary costs to search performance seem to be incurred as children encounter a new task and shift their focus away from the initial task. If children experience any differential effects due to cognition-action resource conflicts, they appear to be masked by the significant effects of disengaging and reengaging with the primary search task.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Cognitive therapy

Recommended Citation

Carrico, Renee L, "Attention during *action in infancy" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3163652.