Neuro-oscillatory mechanisms of intersensory selective attention and task switching in school-aged children, adolescents and young adults

Jeremy W. Murphy, John J. Foxe, Sophie Molholm

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5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The ability to attend to one among multiple sources of information is central to everyday functioning. Just as central is the ability to switch attention among competing inputs as the task at hand changes. Such processes develop surprisingly slowly, such that even into adolescence, we remain slower and more error prone at switching among tasks compared to young adults. The amplitude of oscillations in the alpha band (~8-14 Hz) tracks the top-down deployment of attention, and there is growing evidence that alpha can act as a suppressive mechanism to bias attention away from distracting sensory input. Moreover, the amplitude of alpha has also been shown to be sensitive to the demands of switching tasks. To understand the neural basis of protracted development of these executive functions, we recorded high-density electrophysiology from school-aged children (8-12 years), adolescents (13-17), and young adults (18-34) as they performed a cued inter-sensory selective attention task. The youngest participants showed increased susceptibility to distracting inputs that was especially evident when switching tasks. Concordantly, they showed weaker and delayed onset of alpha modulation compared to the older groups. Thus the flexible and efficient deployment of alpha to bias competition among attentional sets remains underdeveloped in school-aged children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDevelopmental Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2015

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Young Adult
Aptitude
Electrophysiology
Executive Function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

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abstract = "The ability to attend to one among multiple sources of information is central to everyday functioning. Just as central is the ability to switch attention among competing inputs as the task at hand changes. Such processes develop surprisingly slowly, such that even into adolescence, we remain slower and more error prone at switching among tasks compared to young adults. The amplitude of oscillations in the alpha band (~8-14 Hz) tracks the top-down deployment of attention, and there is growing evidence that alpha can act as a suppressive mechanism to bias attention away from distracting sensory input. Moreover, the amplitude of alpha has also been shown to be sensitive to the demands of switching tasks. To understand the neural basis of protracted development of these executive functions, we recorded high-density electrophysiology from school-aged children (8-12 years), adolescents (13-17), and young adults (18-34) as they performed a cued inter-sensory selective attention task. The youngest participants showed increased susceptibility to distracting inputs that was especially evident when switching tasks. Concordantly, they showed weaker and delayed onset of alpha modulation compared to the older groups. Thus the flexible and efficient deployment of alpha to bias competition among attentional sets remains underdeveloped in school-aged children.",
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N2 - The ability to attend to one among multiple sources of information is central to everyday functioning. Just as central is the ability to switch attention among competing inputs as the task at hand changes. Such processes develop surprisingly slowly, such that even into adolescence, we remain slower and more error prone at switching among tasks compared to young adults. The amplitude of oscillations in the alpha band (~8-14 Hz) tracks the top-down deployment of attention, and there is growing evidence that alpha can act as a suppressive mechanism to bias attention away from distracting sensory input. Moreover, the amplitude of alpha has also been shown to be sensitive to the demands of switching tasks. To understand the neural basis of protracted development of these executive functions, we recorded high-density electrophysiology from school-aged children (8-12 years), adolescents (13-17), and young adults (18-34) as they performed a cued inter-sensory selective attention task. The youngest participants showed increased susceptibility to distracting inputs that was especially evident when switching tasks. Concordantly, they showed weaker and delayed onset of alpha modulation compared to the older groups. Thus the flexible and efficient deployment of alpha to bias competition among attentional sets remains underdeveloped in school-aged children.

AB - The ability to attend to one among multiple sources of information is central to everyday functioning. Just as central is the ability to switch attention among competing inputs as the task at hand changes. Such processes develop surprisingly slowly, such that even into adolescence, we remain slower and more error prone at switching among tasks compared to young adults. The amplitude of oscillations in the alpha band (~8-14 Hz) tracks the top-down deployment of attention, and there is growing evidence that alpha can act as a suppressive mechanism to bias attention away from distracting sensory input. Moreover, the amplitude of alpha has also been shown to be sensitive to the demands of switching tasks. To understand the neural basis of protracted development of these executive functions, we recorded high-density electrophysiology from school-aged children (8-12 years), adolescents (13-17), and young adults (18-34) as they performed a cued inter-sensory selective attention task. The youngest participants showed increased susceptibility to distracting inputs that was especially evident when switching tasks. Concordantly, they showed weaker and delayed onset of alpha modulation compared to the older groups. Thus the flexible and efficient deployment of alpha to bias competition among attentional sets remains underdeveloped in school-aged children.

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