Auditory selective attention in children of primary school age
Master Thesis of Eben, Charlotte
We investigated intentional attention switching and inhibitory processes in auditory selective attention in children of primary school age. For this, we developed a paradigm with a binaurally presented acoustic scenery. There were four possible target and distractor positions and four noise positions. A female and a child voice spoke different animal names. A visual cue indicated the position to attend. The target position could either switch or repeat. The participants had to indicate whether the target animal can fly. There were noise and no noise conditions. We tested 24 children and 24 young adults but had to exclude seven children due to high error rates. Hence, the lack of power was discussed. We found large performance costs in children compared to adults. The attention switch costs and congruency effects in both groups showed that this newly developed paradigm is appropriate to investigate intentional auditory attention switching. Moreover, we found reduced accuracy and speeded responses for both groups in the noise condition indicating that participants tried to avoid long time of noise exposure. This effect was even pronounced in children, showing that children are cognitively and emotionally affected by noise. Thus, implications for room acoustics in schools are discussed.