Development of three strategies of attention in dichotic monitoring

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Investigated 3 strategies of attention in 108 Ss in 3 age groups (7, 11, and 20 yrs). Ss monitored lists of monaural and dichotic words and responded manually to target words. Target detection rates in unequal division of attention (Exp I) showed that selection of the relevant input improved with age. The degree of attenuation of the irrelevant input was dependent on which ear was being ignored, but this effect interacted with age. The 7-yr-olds could not attend effectively to left-ear items. Exp II simplified the focusing strategy by eliminating response requirements to the irrelevant input. Selectivity improved with this strategy, particularly in 7-yr-olds. Equal division of attention between the 2 ears (Exp III) revealed a constant right-ear advantage in each age group. Differentiation of the 3 voluntary strategies improved between ages 7 and 11. In adults, the 3 strategies were clearly distinguished. Results are interpreted in terms of a multiprocess model of attention: Perceptual factors such as dichotic interaction and hemispheric asymmetry were strategy dependent but not age dependent. Voluntary selective attention was age dependent and affected the degree to which hemispheric asymmetry could be overcome. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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