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Poorer divided attention in children born very preterm can be explained by difficulty with each component task, not the executive requirement to dual-task

Delane, L., Campbell, C., Bayliss, D.M., Reid, C., Stephens, A., French, N. and Anderson, M. (2016) Poorer divided attention in children born very preterm can be explained by difficulty with each component task, not the executive requirement to dual-task. Child Neuropsychology . In Press.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09297049.2016.1150445
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Abstract

Children born very preterm (VP, ≤ 32 weeks) exhibit poor performance on tasks of executive functioning. However, it is largely unknown whether this reflects the cumulative impact of non-executive deficits or a separable impairment in executive-level abilities. A dual-task paradigm was used in the current study to differentiate the executive processes involved in performing two simple attention tasks simultaneously. The executive-level contribution to performance was indexed by the within-subject cost incurred to single-task performance under dual-task conditions, termed dual-task cost. The participants included 77 VP children (mean age: 7.17 years) and 74 peer controls (mean age: 7.16 years) who completed Sky Search (selective attention), Score (sustained attention) and Sky Search DT (divided attention) from the Test of Everyday Attention for Children. The divided-attention task requires the simultaneous performance of the selective- and sustained-attention tasks. The VP group exhibited poorer performance on the selective- and divided-attention tasks, and showed a strong trend toward poorer performance on the sustained-attention task. However, there were no significant group differences in dual-task cost. These results suggest a cumulative impact of vulnerable lower-level cognitive processes on dual-tasking or divided attention in VP children, and fail to support the hypothesis that VP children show a separable impairment in executive-level abilities.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group
Copyright: 2016 Taylor & Francis
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/30514
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