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Title: When visual stimulation of the surrounding environment affects children’s cognitive performance
Authors: Rodrigues, Pedro F. S.
Pandeirada, Josefa N. S.
Keywords: Visual distraction
Environmental distraction
High-load visual environment
Low-load visual environment
Visuospatial attention tasks
Visuospatial memory tasks
Issue Date: 24-Aug-2018
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Rodrigues, P. F. S., & Pandeirada, J. N. S. (2018). When visual stimulation of the surrounding environment impairs cognitive performance: A study with children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 176, 140-149. doi: Repositório Institucional UPT.
Abstract: Visual distraction is widely studied in children, particularly in visuospatial cognitive tasks. In these studies, targets and distractors are usually shown in the same display (e.g., the computer screen). However, children are constantly exposed to visually enriched environments (e.g., elementary school classrooms), and little is known about their influence on children’s cognition. Although the importance of the surrounding environment is well recognized in the literature, few experimental studies have explored this question. We propose an alternative paradigm to study visual distraction in children that brings together the rigor of experimental psychology and more ecological validity on the exposure to potential environmental distractors. Our study was designed to investigate whether a high-load versus low-load visual surrounding environment influences children’s cognitive performance as evaluated by four different cognitive tasks. A sample of 64 children (aged 8–12 years) completed two sessions in two environmental conditions: a high-load visual surrounding environment and a low-load environment. In each session, they performed visuospatial attention and memory tasks. Overall, the results suggested that the high-load visual environment affected children’s cognitive performance given that children performed better in the low-load visual environment (e.g., higher percentage of hits, higher Corsi span). Understanding the impact that a visually rich surrounding environment has on children’s cognitive processes that support more complex ones is important to support recommendations on how the environment should be organized to foster better daily activities.
ISSN: 1096-0457 (online)
0022-0965 (Print)
Appears in Collections:INPP - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais / Papers in International Journals

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