[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the present study, we investigated developmental trajectories of alerting, orienting, and executive attention networks and their interactions over childhood. Two cross-sectional experiments were conducted with different samples of 6- to 12-year-old children using modified versions of the attention network task (ANT). In Experiment 1 (N = 106), alerting and orienting cues were independently manipulated, thus allowing examination of interactions between these 2 networks, as well as between them and the executive attention network. In Experiment 2 (N = 159), additional changes were made to the task in order to foster exogenous orienting cues. Results from both studies consistently revealed separate developmental trajectories for each attention network. Children younger than 7 years exhibited stronger benefits from having an alerting auditory signal prior to the target presentation. Developmental changes in orienting were mostly observed on response accuracy between middle and late childhood, whereas executive attention showed increases in efficiency between 7 years and older ages, and further improvements in late childhood. Of importance, across both experiments, significant interactions between alerting and orienting, as well as between each of these and the executive attention network, were observed. Alerting cues led to speeding shifts of attention and enhancing orienting processes. Also, both alerting and orienting cues modulated the magnitude of the flanker interference effect. These findings inform current theoretical models of human attention and its development, characterizing for the first time, the age-related course of attention networks interactions that, present in adults, stem from further refinements over childhood. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bilinguals have been shown to outperform monolinguals in a variety of tasks that do not tap into linguistic processes. The origin of this bilingual advantage has been questioned in recent years. While some authors argue that the reason behind this apparent advantage is bilinguals' enhanced executive functioning, inhibitory skills and/or monitoring abilities, other authors suggest that the locus of these differences between bilinguals and monolinguals may lie in uncontrolled factors or incorrectly matched samples. In the current study we tested a group of 180 bilingual children and a group of 180 carefully matched monolinguals in a child-friendly version of the ANT task. Following recent evidence from similar studies with children, our results showed no bilingual advantage at all, given that the performance of the two groups in the task and the indices associated with the individual attention networks were highly similar and statistically indistinguishable.
Frontiers in Psychology 01/2014; 5:398. · 2.80 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is assumed that children's performance in mathematical abilities is influenced by several factors such as working memory (WM), verbal ability, intelligence, and socioeconomic status. The present study explored the contribution of those factors to mathematical performance taking a componential view of both WM and mathematics. We explored the existing relationship between different WM components (verbal and spatial) with tasks that make differential recruitment of the central executive, and simple and complex mathematical skills in a sample of 102 children in grades 4-6. The main findings point to a relationship between the verbal WM component and complex word arithmetic problems, whereas language and non-verbal intelligence were associated with knowledge of quantitative concepts and arithmetic ability. The spatial WM component was associated with the subtest Series, whereas the verbal component was with the subtest Concepts. The results also suggest a positive relationship between parental educational level and children's performance on Quantitative Concepts. These findings suggest that specific cognitive skills might be trained in order to improve different aspects of mathematical ability.
Frontiers in Psychology 01/2014; 5:415. · 2.80 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study we used an affective priming task to address the issue of whether the processing of emotional facial expressions occurs automatically independent of attention or attentional resources. Participants had to attend to the emotion expression of the prime face, or to a nonemotional feature of the prime face, the glasses. When participants attended to glasses (emotion unattended), they had to report whether the face wore glasses or not (the glasses easy condition) or whether the glasses were rounded or squared (the shape difficult condition). Affective priming, measured on valence decisions on target words, was mainly defined as interference from incongruent rather than facilitation from congruent trials. Significant priming effects were observed just in the emotion and glasses tasks but not in the shape task. When the key-response mapping increased in complexity, taxing working memory load, affective priming effects were reduced equally for the three types of tasks. Thus, attentional load and working memory load affected additively to the observed reduction in affective priming. These results cast some doubts on the automaticity of processing emotional facial expressions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sleep deprivation reduces vigilance or arousal levels, affecting the efficiency of certain cognitive functions such as learning and memory. Here we assessed whether the differential outcomes procedure (DOP), a learning procedure that has proved useful to ameliorate episodic memory deficits, can also improve memory performance in sleep-deprived participants. Photographs were presented as sample faces. A probe face was then presented for recognition after either short or long delays. In the differential outcomes condition a unique reinforcer followed correct responses. In the non-differential outcomes condition reinforcers were provided in a random manner. The results indicated that the DOP prevented the recognition memory to decrement during the long delay in the control group, replicating previous findings. The sleep-deprived group showed DOP benefits mainly with the short delay, when working memory could be affected by low arousal. These findings confirm that the DOP can overcome impaired recognition memory due to sleep deprivation conditions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate state between normal aging and early dementia. Some MCI patients show white matter hyperintensities in magnetic resonance imaging, revealing subcortical vascular damage (SVD). This study aimed to evaluate potential attention deficits not previously described in these patients. Specifically, we evaluated attention network functioning in MCI on the basis of Posner's cognitive neuroscience model, which considers attention as a set of networks: alerting, orienting and executive control.
Three groups of participants were tested: 19 MCI patients with SVD (svMCI), 15 MCI patients free from SVD (nvMCI) and 19 healthy controls (HC). We used a task in which the three attention networks and their interactions can be assessed simultaneously, the Attention Network Test (ANT).
The svMCI group showed smaller orienting effect compared with the nvMCI and HC groups. In contrast to the HC and nvMCI groups, svMCI patients did not show improvement in the executive network from the valid visual cue.
svMCI patients show a deficit in orienting attention networks. This deficit could be related to an effect of SVD on the cholinergic system because acetylcholine is implicated in the modulation of covert orienting responses of attention.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A priming procedure was used to study the processing of distractors located either inside (between the location of two targets) or outside (peripherally to the locations of the targets) the focus of attention. The stimuli were five-letter arrays, and participants had to decide whether two marked target letters were the same or different. In Experiments 1 and 2, positive priming was obtained both when targets and in-distractors in primes repeated as targets in probes; negative priming was found when out-distractor primes repeated as targets in probes. In Experiment 3, we also manipulated the match in letter case from primes to probes. In-distractors produced reliable positive priming, irrespective of whether the letters matched in case. In contrast out-distractors produced negative priming but only when the letters had the same case in primes and probes. These results are attributed to a spatial attention process operating (in this case) on low-level visual features, and an object-based selection process that enables more abstract information to be processed for selected stimuli. Over the last two decades, the spotlight metaphor has been influential in interpreting data on visuospatial attention (Cave & Bichot, 1999). According to this metaphor, attention can be oriented intentionally to locations in space just as a spotlight can be moved to illuminate individual objects in a room. The pro-cessing of a visual stimulus is assumed to depend on its location with respect to the spotlight (LaBerge, 1983). Stimuli located inside the focus are fully Please address all correspondence to: Andre Âs Catena, This work was funded by grants from the Spanish Ministerio de Educacio Ân (BSO2003-04594, and BS02003-03723, to Andre Âs Catena, and BSO2003-00930, to Luis J. Fuentes).