Developmental changes in children's abilities to share and allocate attention in a dual task.
Characterizing developmental changes in children's dual-task performance has been problematic because differences in divided attention abilities are easily confounded with differences in overall capacity. Two experiments showed that after individual differences in children's capacity for single-task performance were controlled for, age differences between second- (M = 8.1 years) and fifth-grade (M = 11.1 years) children did not exist in dual-task performance when tasks were of equal priority. However, when tasks had different priorities, only fifth-grade children could differentially allocate attention in the dual task. Results are discussed within the coordination hypothesis framework (see A. F. Kramer & J. L. Larish, 1996), which suggests that changes in dual-task performance with aging are due to changes in the ability to coordinate and control the allocation of attention. It is argued that linking the investigations of children's attention with research on attention and aging provides both methodological and theoretical benefits.
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