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Attention in Early DevelopmentThemes and Variations$
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Holly Alliger Ruff and Mary Klevjord Rothbart

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195136326

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195136326.001.0001

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Scanning, Searching, and Shifting Attention

Scanning, Searching, and Shifting Attention

(p.57) 4 Scanning, Searching, and Shifting Attention
Attention in Early Development

Holly Alliger Ruff

Mary Klevjord Rothbart

Oxford University Press

This chapter uses the extensive research on eye movements in order to elucidate the development of visual information gathering. The eye movements of newborns show that they tend to fixate on contours. When looking at specific objects and pictures, infants of 2 to 3 months begin to scan more broadly and to include the internal details. Scanning continues to become more precise, but even pre-schoolers scan in a less controlled manner than adults. During the first year, shifting fixations from one object to another in the environment becomes more rapid and appears to reflect a comparison of alternatives. Later scanning patterns reflect the influence of past experiences, expectations, and task demands. Although visual fixations are an indirect measure of the underlying attentional processes, they are useful in documenting changes from sub-cortical to cortical control of attention.

Keywords:   eye movements, fixations, scanning, anticipation, shifts of attention, overt orienting, covert orienting

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