Investigation of the relationship between switching auditory selective attention and heart rate variability of children
Master Thesis of Gierden, Nathalie
Noise is known to influence human cognitive performance such as auditory selective attention. Also, physiological reactions can be measured when being exposed to noise. In comparison to adults, children are even more exposed to noise. Especially in educational buildings, such as schools, children are confronted with many different sound sources, including noise, coming from different directions. Therefore, it is of interest to which extent the noise causes stress for children and whether it can affect their development and learning performance. To ensure the latter two aspects, it is essential to investigate whether there is a relation between intentional auditory attention switches and the physiological reactions of children. In an earlier study, the relation between auditory selective attention and heart rate variability was investigated in young adults. This work examines the relation between children’s auditory selective attention and the heart rate variability while being exposed to different noise settings. A hearing experiment is conducted with 24-30 normal-hearing children (6-10 years old, 50 % girls, 50 % boys) using a validated child-appropriate paradigm on intentional switching of auditory selective attention. A non-obtrusive measurement method is chosen to obtain the electrocardiography (ECG) without affecting the rest of the experiment. Afterward, suitable heart rate variability parameters are evaluated, and their correlation with the parameters concerning auditory selective attention is assessed statistically.