Evaluating attention allocation in children to young adults with a single and dual task EEG paradigm

Cawthorne, Justine, author
Stephens, Jaclyn, advisor
Davies, Patricia, advisor
Fling, Brett, committee member
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Objectives. The ability to effectively allocate attentional resources between tasks has implications for participation in activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) across the lifespan. Neuroimaging techniques, such as electroencephalography (EEG) can measure cognitive processing with more precision than some behavioral paradigms and can evaluate the neural underpinnings of cognitive processes such as attention. Further, EEG has excellent temporal resolution, as it can measure changes in attention occurring at the neural level in milliseconds. This study's purpose is to understand how neural markers of attention are impacted in neurotypical participants under different task demands (i.e. single versus dual). This study also seeks to understand if attention is different across age under different task demands. Methods. All EEG data were collected for this study using a portable QuickTrace system (Neuroscan (Compumedics USA, 5015 West WT Harris Blvd, Suite E, Charlotte, NC 28269, USA)) from 29 scalp sites according to the 10-20 system. Data from 206 neurotypical participants age 7-25 (M= 13.64 years, SD= 4.21) were analyzed for this study. Each participant completed the novelty oddball paradigm (single task) and novelty dual task paradigm. Three distinct tone types (standard, target, and novel) are used in the novelty oddball (NOD) paradigm. Participants were instructed to press a button with their right index finger in response to the target tone. Participants were instructed to not respond to any other tones. In the novelty dual task (NDT) paradigm, participants continued to respond to target tone and simultaneously viewed numbers displayed on a computer monitor. Participants were instructed to press a button with their left index finger when there were three sequentially-presented odd numbers. Results. P3 amplitude and latency from Fz and Pz scalp sites during target tone presentation were analyzed. There was a negative correlation between participant age and P3 amplitude and latency at both Fz and Pz. There was no main effect of task nor an interaction of task and age on either P3 amplitude or latency at Pz. However, there was a significant main effect of task on P3 amplitude at Fz, as single task amplitudes were smaller than dual task amplitudes. There was also a significant interaction of task and age for P3 amplitude at Fz, demonstrating that the P3 amplitude in response to dual tasks decreased more with increasing participant age than P3 amplitude in response to single tasks. A significant interaction of task and age for latency at Fz was found, demonstrating that the latency of the P3 in response to single tasks decreases more with increasing participant age than the latency in response to dual tasks. Conclusions. These findings suggest that attention changes with age and that dual tasks are more effortful in younger participants compared to older participants. Future directions of this research include exploration of how manipulating the probability of hearing each stimulus affects amplitude and latency of the P3 in a three-tone novelty paradigm. Other future directions include exploration of the effects of differing task demands in populations such as those who may have attention deficits.
2019 Summer.
Includes bibliographical references.
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auditory oddball paradigm
dual task
attention allocation
occupational therapy
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