Distraction and reorientation in children: a behavioral and ERP study

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Abstract

In the context of distraction, involuntary orienting to task-irrelevant deviations and the following reorienting to task-relevant stimulus information were studied in children aged 5–6 years. In an auditory distraction paradigm, reaction times were prolonged by 51 ms in trials including a task-irrelevant stimulus deviancy. Event-related potentials (ERPs) revealed a mismatch response (MMR) at 252 ms and a reorienting negativity (RON) 476 ms post-stimulus in response to deviating sounds. These behavioral and ERP effects resemble those reported for adults. We conclude that kindergarten children are prone to distraction, although they can quite effectively but not fully shield working memory operations from perturbating distracting information, and can recover from distraction in a similar way to adults.

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