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Individual Differences in Mental Attentional Capacity in Development: an Eye-tracking Study

Student: Valentina Bachurina

Supervisor: Marie Arsalidou

Faculty: Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience

Educational Programme: Cognitive Sciences and Technologies: From Neuron to Cognition (Master)

Final Grade: 8

Year of Graduation: 2019

Eye-tracking is a non-invasive method that has proven invaluable in studying attention, cognitive control and other higher order mental processes. The term mental attentional capacity was introduced by Juan Pascual-Leone in the Theory of Constructive Operators within the framework of neo-Piagetian approach to cognitive development, where it is also known as the M-operator. It corresponds to the amount of schemes, that can be maintained and processed in the focus of mental attention (MA) and thus could be interpreted as a central component of working memory (WM) – executive attention. To our knowledge no eye tracking studies have been conducted so far with parametric measures of mental attentional capacity, which account for interference control in a WM task and would allow to differentiate effect of interference and mental attentional load on eye movements. In the current study adults and children groups completed all levels of MA load in two interference conditions (high and low). The results of this study show that eye movements of adults and children during a WM task are affected differentially by MA load.

Full text (added May 13, 2019)

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