Does Children’s Shape Knowledge Contribute to Age-Related Improvements in Selective Sustained Attention Measured in a TrackIt Task?

AbstractThe ability to maintain attentive state over a period of time (i.e., Selective Sustained Attention) is important for higher-order cognition but challenging to assess in preschool-age children. TrackIt task was developed to address this challenge and has been argued to be sensitive to age-related differences in selective sustained attention in 3- to 5-year-old children. However, it remains unclear whether this improvement with age also (or predominantly) reflects improvement in children’s knowledge of different shapes used as stimuli in this task in prior studies. The current study addressed this possibility. Consistent with prior studies, we found clear age-related improvement in performance on TrackIt. However, we did not find evidence that shape knowledge played a role in TrackIt performance for children aged 2 to 5, suggesting that increased knowledge of geometric shapes is not sufficient to explain age-related improvement in performance and helping validate TrackIt as an assessment of Selective Sustained Attention.

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