In an earlier study of an epidemiological sample of 435 urban 8-year-old children, factor analytically-derived components of attention, as assessed by neuropsychological tests, were identified and were found to be significantly related to adaptive functioning. In this study we followed that cohort longitudinally and assessed developmental changes in specific aspects of attentional function into early adolescence. Significant reductions in omission errors and improvements in reaction times were found from ages 8 to 13 years on different versions of the Continuous Performance Task, a measure of sustained attention, with the effects varying by task difficulty level and subjects' gender. Significant improvements across age also were found on measures of the ability to focus attention and execute a response, shift attentional focus, and encode information in memory. In general, the most rapid changes in attention occurred between ages 8 to 10 years with more gradual changes occurring between ages 10 to 13. The results highlight the importance of developmental epidemiological approaches for assessing and predicting the normal evolution of attentional function in school-aged children.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology