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Title: Cortical mechanisms of visual attention in typically developing infants and adults
Author: Kulke, L. V.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7428 9097
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis used a combined methodology of on-line eye tracking and high density EEG to study neural mechanisms of attention development in infants and adults. The extensively studied Fixation Shift Paradigm (FSP) measures the ability to shift attention between two stimuli (competition) or towards one single visible stimulus (non-competition) which improves during infancy. The novel method here overcame a number of methodological challenges to measure event-rated potentials during overt shifts of attention in competition and non-competition conditions. An experiment used eye tracking to test infants between 1 and 8 months on the FSP, establishing that this automated measure is suitable for non-verbal populations and adds precision to the developmental trends previously reported. An experiment successfully combined eye tracking and EEG to record patterns of brain activity during covert and overt attention shifts in adults. It found that neural mechanisms previously studied in covert attention shifts are similar to those in overt shifts, but differ in a frontal positivity, possibly reflecting saccade inhibition. Combined eye tracking and EEG with the original FSP showed that similar cortical mechanisms are involved in attention shifts under competition and non-competition conditions but that occipital response latencies differ at an early stage, reflecting the behavioural pattern of shorter latencies in non-competition conditions. Parallel measurements during infancy showed that the lateralisation of frontal brain responses coincides with developmental improvements in the ability to shift attention. In conclusion, the work demonstrates that, with suitable precautions taken to avoid artefacts, eye tracking and EEG can be successfully combined to monitor group-level brain mechanisms during overt attention shifts. Neurodevelopmental changes have been identified that underpin the increasing efficiency of neural attention pathways during infancy, and increased automation of responses from reliance on frontal pathways in infancy to occipital pathways in adulthood.
Supervisor: Atkinson, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available