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Annalisa Groth, Sylvia Guillory, Erik Blaser, Zsuzsa Kaldy; Visual search performance and IQ in 2-year-olds. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):235. doi: 10.1167/14.10.235.
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Background: Performance on visual search tasks reflect the ability to attend to a task while successfully ignoring distractions. Research on the link between visual search ability and general intelligence have so far yielded mixed results (e.g. Rezazadeh et al., 2011; Huang et al., 2012) and there has been very little research that investigated this relationship early in life. Here we examined this link in 2-year-old typically developing toddlers. Methods: 30 full-term, healthy children (14 females, mean age: 27.7 months) participated. We developed a no-instruction version of the classic visual search paradigm specifically designed for toddlers. Stimuli consisted of single-feature (color [red/blue] and shape [circle/rectangle]; set sizes: 9, 13) and feature-conjunction trials (set sizes: 5, 9, 13) in mixed blocks. Search displays were presented for 4 s, then the target (always a red circle) rotated for 3 s; acting as feedback and reward. A Tobii T120 eye tracker was used to record eye movements. Our dependent measure was success at fixating the target within the 4 s search period. Following the visual search task, all participants were assessed for general intelligence using the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (Mullen, 1989), a standard early measure of mental age. Results: As expected, success rates in the feature-conjunction trials (but not in the single-feature trials) decreased with set size. Additionally, toddlers with above median IQ had significantly higher success rates in feature-conjunction trials than those below the median (p = 0.027), this difference being most pronounced in the highest set size (13 items) trials. Conclusion: These findings suggest that visual search skills may be related to intelligence in children as young as 2 years of age. Future studies may explore whether this effect is mediated by a general attention factor.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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