Testing predictions of a neural process model of visual attention in infancy across competitive and non-competitive contexts

John Spencer (Lead Author), Shannon Ross-Sheehy, Bret Eschman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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A key question in early development is how changes in neural systems give rise to changes in infants' behavior. We examine this question by testing predictions of a dynamic field (DF) model of infant spatial attention. We tested 5-, 7-, and 10-month-old infants in the Infant Orienting With Attention (IOWA) task containing the original non-competitive cue conditions (when a central stimulus disappeared before a cue onset) and new competitive cue conditions (when a central stimulus remained visible throughout the trial). This allowed testing of five model predictions: (1) that orienting accuracy would be higher and (2) reaction times would be slower for all competitive conditions; (3) that all infants would be slower to orient in the competitive conditions, though (4) older infants would show the strongest competition costs; and (5) that reaction times would be particularly slow for un-cued competitive conditions. Four of these five predictions were supported, and the remaining prediction was supported in part. We next examined fits of the model to the expanded task. New simulation results reveal close fits to the present findings after parameter modification. Critically, developmental parameters of the model were not altered, providing support for the DF model's account of neuro-developmental change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-411
Number of pages23
Issue number2
Early online date17 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • cognitive development
  • dynamic field theory
  • infancy
  • neural process models
  • orienting attention
  • spatial attention

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