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Poster A21

Neural synchrony as a mechanism for broader attention in childhood?

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Justine A. Vorvis1,2 (, Amy Finn1, Donald Mabbott1,2, Katherine Duncan1, Julie Tseng2; 1University of Toronto, 2The Hospital for Sick Children

The ability to selectively attend to “targets” and ignore “distracters” develops slowly into early adulthood, and recent work suggests that this may allow children to attend more broadly and learn more about distracters. But what are the brain mechanisms underpinning broader attention in childhood? Could children’s broader attention arise from the more equal propagation of target and distracter information through neural synchrony? To answer this question, we are using magnetoencephalography to measure brain activity in 6- to 30-year-old participants while they selectively attend to either objects or faces in an n-back task. We expect adults to show greater neural synchrony (measured as the weighted phase lag index) between the object-selective lateral occipital complex (LOC) and other regions in the ventral stream when the target category is objects as compared to faces, and greater synchrony between the face-selective fusiform face area (FFA) and other regions in the ventral stream when the target category is faces as compared to objects. In children, we expect neural synchrony levels to be less influenced by the target category. Preliminary analyses (n = 7 children and youth) on a subset of connections (the LOC and FFA with the hippocampi and V1) found no effect of target category in either the low or high gamma bands after false discovery rate correction. If this pattern is observed in the full child sample, then less selective neural synchrony patterns may be one way in which the developing brain equips children to process the multitude of information available to them.

Topic Area: ATTENTION: Development & aging


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April 13–16  |  2024