Neurocognitive development of the resolution of selective visuo-spatial attention : functional MRI evidence from object tracking

  • Our ability to select relevant information from the environment is limited by the resolution of attention – i.e., the minimum size of the region that can be selected. Neural mechanisms that underlie this limit and its development are not yet understood. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed during an object tracking task in 7- and 11-year-old children, and in young adults. Object tracking activated canonical fronto-parietal attention systems and motion-sensitive area MT in children as young as 7 years. Object tracking performance improved with age, together with stronger recruitment of parietal attention areas and a shift from low-level to higher-level visual areas. Increasing the required resolution of spatial attention – which was implemented by varying the distance between target and distractors in the object tracking task – led to activation increases in fronto-insular cortex, medial frontal cortex including anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and supplementary motor area, superior colliculi, and thalamus. This core circuitry for attentional precision was recruited by all age groups, but ACC showed an age-related activation reduction. Our results suggest that age-related improvements in selective visual attention and in the resolution of attention are characterized by an increased use of more functionally specialized brain regions during the course of development.

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Author:Kerstin Wolf, Elena M. Galeano Weber, Jasper J. F. van den Bosch, Steffen Volz, Ulrike Nöth, Ralf Deichmann, Marcus Johannes Naumer, Till Pfeiffer, Christian FiebachORCiDGND
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in psychology
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
Place of publication:Lausanne
Contributor(s):Peter Klaver
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/07/30
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/10/30
Tag:development; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); object tracking; selective attention; visuo-spatial attention
Issue:Art. 1106
Page Number:16
First Page:1
Last Page:16
Copyright © 2018 Wolf, Galeano Weber, van den Bosch, Volz, Nöth, Deichmann, Naumer, Pfeiffer and Fiebach. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften / Psychologie
Medizin / Medizin
Angeschlossene und kooperierende Institutionen / Deutsches Institut für Internationale Pädagogische Forschung (DIPF)
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Open-Access-Publikationsfonds:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0