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L. J. B. Hill, J. H. G. Williams, L. Aucott, M. Mon-Williams; The development of a novel visuo-motor task for measuring visual attention. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):939. doi: 10.1167/13.9.939.
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Introduction: The abilities to sustain and divide attention, inhibit response and selectively direct visual attention are skills that predict academic performance levels in children. These skills are commonly impaired in individuals with Attention Deficit Disorders. To date, no standardised psychometric test is capable of objectively measuring these aspects of attentive performance with the brevity and detail required to ensure such a tool is viable as a population-level screening assessment. Methods: We developed a 15min visuo-motor task suitable for use with adults and children and measured attentive functioning using a tablet-screen computer. Participants tracked moving targets on the screen with a stylus under single-task (following one target) and a variety of dual-task conditions (following one of four simultaneously displayed moving targets and intermittently switching to track a different target in response to a secondary cue presented in the visual periphery). Results: Experiment 1 established that manipulation of attentional load on the cue-detection component affected adult’s (19-50 years) and children’s (8-12 years) accuracy and tracking variability. Experiment 2 revealed age differences between groups, even after adjusting for motor-control differences. In Experiment 3, outcomes on the task were validated against the Gordon Diagnostic System (a standardised test of sustained attention) and parental reports of children’s attentiveness (measured using two standardised questionnaires). Experiment 4 found differences in strategy when completing the task, with the strategic differences dependent on task difficulty and whether or not a participant had a developmental disorder. Conclusions: These results suggest our visuo-motor task has great potential as a population level screening tool for objectively measuring attentive functioning and detecting developmental disorders. These results will be discussed with regard to ongoing data collection in a cohort of 13,500 children (Born in Bradford) where performance on our task can be related to genetic, health and educational data on the children and parents.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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