September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Visual Search in children: What we know so far, and new challenges in the real world
Author Affiliations
  • Beatriz Gil-Gómez de Liaño
    Brigham & Women’s Hospital-Harvard Medical School and Cambridge University
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 7c. doi:
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      Beatriz Gil-Gómez de Liaño; Visual Search in children: What we know so far, and new challenges in the real world. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):7c.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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While we have a very substantial body of research on visual search in adults, there is a much smaller literature in children, despite the importance of search in cognitive development. Visual Search is a vital task in everyday life of children: looking for friends in the park, choosing the appropriate word within a word-list in a quiz at school, looking for the numbers given in a math problem... For feature search (e.g. “pop-out” of red among green), it is well-established that infants and children generally perform similarly to adults, showing that exogenous attention is stable across the lifespan. However, for conjunction search tasks there is evidence of age-related performance differences through all stages of life showing the typical inverted U shape function from childhood to older age. In this talk I will review some recent work and present new data showing that different mechanisms of selective attention operate at different ages within childhood, not only at a quantitative level but also qualitatively. Target salience, reward history, child-friendly stimuli and video-game-like tasks may be also important factors modulating attention in visual search in childhood, showing that children’s attentional processes can be more effective than has been believed to date. We will also show new results from a visual search foraging task, highlighting it as a potentially useful task in a more complete study of cognitive and attentional development in the real world. This work leads to better understanding of typical cognitive development and gives us insights into developmental attentional deficits.


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