Attention underpins many activities integral to a child's development. However, methodological limitations currently make large-scale assessment of children's attentional skill impractical, costly and lacking in ecological validity. Consequently we developed a measure of 'Visual Motor Attention' (VMA)-a construct defined as the ability to sustain and adapt visuomotor behaviour in response to task-relevant visual information. In a series of experiments, we evaluated the capability of our method to measure attentional processes and their contributions in guiding visuomotor behaviour. Experiment 1 established the method's core features (ability to track stimuli moving on a tablet-computer screen with a hand-held stylus) and demonstrated its sensitivity to principled manipulations in adults' attentional load. Experiment 2 standardised a format suitable for use with children and showed construct validity by capturing developmental changes in executive attention processes. Experiment 3 tested the hypothesis that children with and without coordination difficulties would show qualitatively different response patterns, finding an interaction between the cognitive and motor factors underpinning responses. Experiment 4 identified associations between VMA performance and existing standardised attention assessments and thereby confirmed convergent validity. These results establish a novel approach to measuring childhood attention that can produce meaningful functional assessments that capture how attention operates in an ecologically valid context (i.e. attention's specific contribution to visuomanual action).
- School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition, Health Services Research Unit (HSRU) - Senior Research Fellow
- School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition, Centre for Health Data Science
- Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care
- Institute of Applied Health Sciences
Person: Academic Related - Research