ERIC Number: EJ867430
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Seven-Year-Olds Allocate Attention Like Adults Unless Working Memory Is Overloaded
Cowan, Nelson; Morey, Candice C.; AuBuchon, Angela M.; Zwilling, Christopher E.; Gilchrist, Amanda L.
Developmental Science, v13 n1 p120-133 Jan 2010
Previous studies have indicated that visual working memory performance increases with age in childhood, but it is not clear why. One main hypothesis has been that younger children are less efficient in their attention; specifically, they are less able to exclude irrelevant items from working memory to make room for relevant items. We examined this hypothesis by measuring visual working memory capacity under a continuum of five attention conditions. A recognition advantage was found for items to be attended as opposed to ignored. The size of this attention-related effect was adult-like in young children with small arrays, suggesting that their attention processes are efficient even though their working memory capacity is smaller than that of older children and adults. With a larger working memory load, this efficiency in young children was compromised. The efficiency of attention cannot be the sole explanation for the capacity difference.
Descriptors: Young Children, Short Term Memory, Memorization, Adults, Cognitive Ability, Visual Stimuli, Task Analysis, Attention Control, Age Differences, Efficiency
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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