Development of selective listening and hemispheric asymmetry

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In 2 experiments binaural and dichotic tasks of varying complexity were given to 64 7- and 9-yr-old children to investigate the interaction of laterality and selective attention. One of each digit pair was spoken by a male and the other by a female. Ss recalled 3 of the digits spoken in a specified voice. With the attended voice in one ear, performance improved relative to the binaural condition in both age groups. However, when location and voice cues were uncorrelated, the younger Ss' performance was more adversely affected. The right ear advantage (REA) increased as a function of task difficulty. With slow presentation rates, the REA remained constant with age but decreased with age in the faster conditions, which was opposite to the predicted increase in cerebral asymmetry of language function with age. The 7-yr-olds responded according to their perceptual asymmetry, recalling right-ear items whether the attended voice was in the left or right ear. The developmental changes in selective attention are explained by a capacity model. (28 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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