Deaf children have been characterized as being impulsive, distractible, and unable to sustain attention. However, past research has tested deaf children born to hearing parents who are likely to have experienced language delays. The purpose of this study was to determine whether an absence of auditory input modulates attentional problems in deaf children with no delayed exposure to language. Two versions of a continuous performance test were administered to 37 deaf children born to Deaf parents and 60 hearing children, all aged 6-13 years. A vigilance task was used to measure sustained attention over the course of several minutes, and a distractibility test provided a measure of the ability to ignore task irrelevant information - selective attention. Both tasks provided assessments of cognitive control through analysis of commission errors. The deaf and hearing children did not differ on measures of sustained attention. However, younger deaf children were more distracted by task-irrelevant information in their peripheral visual field, and deaf children produced a higher number of commission errors in the selective attention task. It is argued that this is not likely to be an effect of audition on cognitive processing, but may rather reflect difficulty in endogenous control of reallocated visual attention resources stemming from early profound deafness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems