A recent study by Alicia Leiva, Pilar Andrés, Mateu Servera, Frederick Verbruggen and Fabrice Parmentier reports the results of a study comparing children, young adults and elderly adults in a cross-modal oddball task, a working memory task and a stop-signal task. Data collected from one hundred and twenty participants show that deviance distraction does not result from a temporary inhibition of motor processes and does not correlate with working memory capacity.
This new study is to appear in the prestigious journal Developmental Psychology edited by the American Psychological Association and ranked 4th best journal in developmental psychology internationally.
Congratulations to Alicia on this fifth accepted publication as part of her doctoral dissertation!
Abstract: Sounds deviating from an otherwise repeated or structured sequence capture attention and affect performance in an ongoing visual task negatively, testament to the balance between selective attention and change detection. While deviance distraction has been the object of much research, its modulation across the life span has been more scarcely addressed. Recent findings suggest possible connections with working memory and response inhibition. In this study we measured the performance of children, young and older adults in a cross-modal oddball task (deviance distraction), a working memory task (working memory capacity) and a response inhibition task (ability to voluntarily inhibit an already planned action) with the aim to establish the contribution of the latter two to the first. Older adults exhibited significantly more deviance distraction than children and young adults (who did not differ from each other). Working memory capacity mediated deviance distraction in children and older adults (though in opposite directions) but not in young adults. Response inhibition capacities did not mediate deviance distraction in any of the age groups. Altogether the results suggest that while the increase in deviance distraction observed in old age may partly reflect the relative impairment of working memory mechanisms, there is no straightforward and stable relation between working memory capacity and deviance distraction across the life span. Furthermore, our results indicate that deviance distraction is unlikely to reflect the temporary inhibition of responses.