Differential development of visual attention skills in school-age children

Matthew W.G. Dye, Daphne Bavelier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children aged 7-17 years and adults aged 18-22 years were tested on three aspects of visual attention: the ability to distribute visual attention across the field to search for a target, the time required for attention to recover from being directed towards a target, and the number of objects to which attention can be simultaneously allocated. The data suggested different developmental trajectories for these components of visual attention within the same set of participants. This suggests that, to some extent, spatial, temporal and object-based attentional processes are subserved by different neural resources which develop at different rate. In addition, participants who played action games showed enhanced performance on all aspects of attention tested as compared to non-gamers. These findings reveal a potential facilitation of development of attentional skills in children who are avid players of action video games. As these games are predominantly drawing a male audience, young girls are at risk of under-performing on such tests, calling for a careful control of video game usage when assessing gender differences in attentional tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-459
Number of pages8
JournalVision Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 22 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Attentional blink
  • Development
  • Multiple object tracking
  • Useful field of view
  • Video games
  • Visual learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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