Endogenous Attention in 5-Month-Old Full-Term and Premature Infants

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Recent research has demonstrated that a deficit of endogenous attention (EA) is a main and stable characteristic of the mental development in healthy extremely premature (HEP) infants from the age of 2 years. A study was made of the differences in EA (anticipatory attention) between full-term (FT) and HEP infants, both aged 5 months (the HEP infants' ages were corrected for prematurity). The general psychomotor development of the HEP infants was comparable to that of the age-matched FT infants. However, the HEP infants significantly differed from the FT infants in the ability to keep the attention on an object absent in the visual field. Unlike the HEP infants, the FT infants demonstrated a predominance of EA over all other types of attention in the visual expectation paradigm, as confirmed by ANOVA with the factors Maturity and Attention Type. Comparison of the frequency of different types of attention between the two groups showed that the EA frequency in the HEP infants was significantly lower than that in the FT infants. The findings showed that HEP infants, even those with a low risk for abnormal psychomotor development, demonstrate the impairment of EA control as early as at the age of 5 months.

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