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The modulation of auditory novelty processing by working memory load in school age children and adults: a combined behavioral and event-related potential study.

Ruhnau P, Wetzel N, Widmann A, Schröger E - BMC Neurosci (2010)

Bottom Line: Adults showed more efficient reallocation of attention (reflected by RON) under load condition than children.Finally, the P3b elicited by the visual target stimuli was reduced in both age groups when the preceding sound was a novel.Our results give new insights in the development of novelty processing as they (1) reveal that task-irrelevant novel sounds can result in contrary effects on the performance in a visual primary task in children and adults, (2) show a positive ERP deflection to novels rather than an MMN in children, and (3) reveal effects of auditory novels on visual target processing.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Psychology I, University of Leipzig, Seeburgstr, 14-20, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany. ruhnau@uni-leipzig.de

ABSTRACT

Background: We investigated the processing of task-irrelevant and unexpected novel sounds and its modulation by working-memory load in children aged 9-10 and in adults. Environmental sounds (novels) were embedded amongst frequently presented standard sounds in an auditory-visual distraction paradigm. Each sound was followed by a visual target. In two conditions, participants evaluated the position of a visual stimulus (0-back, low load) or compared the position of the current stimulus with the one two trials before (2-back, high load). Processing of novel sounds were measured with reaction times, hit rates and the auditory event-related brain potentials (ERPs) Mismatch Negativity (MMN), P3a, Reorienting Negativity (RON) and visual P3b.

Results: In both memory load conditions novels impaired task performance in adults whereas they improved performance in children. Auditory ERPs reflect age-related differences in the time-window of the MMN as children showed a positive ERP deflection to novels whereas adults lack an MMN. The attention switch towards the task irrelevant novel (reflected by P3a) was comparable between the age groups. Adults showed more efficient reallocation of attention (reflected by RON) under load condition than children. Finally, the P3b elicited by the visual target stimuli was reduced in both age groups when the preceding sound was a novel.

Conclusion: Our results give new insights in the development of novelty processing as they (1) reveal that task-irrelevant novel sounds can result in contrary effects on the performance in a visual primary task in children and adults, (2) show a positive ERP deflection to novels rather than an MMN in children, and (3) reveal effects of auditory novels on visual target processing.

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Group average ERPs in the memory load conditions for both age groups. Left panel displays children right panel displays adults with age typical event related responses. The high lightened areas mark the statistically analyzed areas of MMR, P3a and RON.
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Figure 2: Group average ERPs in the memory load conditions for both age groups. Left panel displays children right panel displays adults with age typical event related responses. The high lightened areas mark the statistically analyzed areas of MMR, P3a and RON.

Mentions: Auditory ERPs are displayed at Figure 2, their novel minus standard difference waves, difference topographies and corresponding SCDs are displayed at Figure 3. The ANOVA computed for the N1 refractoriness effects (peak 100 ± 10 ms) in adults revealed no significant main effect or interactions, most importantly the Stimulus Type main effect was not significant (F(1,11) = 2.059, p > 0.17) though there was no different N1 on novels compared to standard sounds.


The modulation of auditory novelty processing by working memory load in school age children and adults: a combined behavioral and event-related potential study.

Ruhnau P, Wetzel N, Widmann A, Schröger E - BMC Neurosci (2010)

Group average ERPs in the memory load conditions for both age groups. Left panel displays children right panel displays adults with age typical event related responses. The high lightened areas mark the statistically analyzed areas of MMR, P3a and RON.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2959093&req=5

Figure 2: Group average ERPs in the memory load conditions for both age groups. Left panel displays children right panel displays adults with age typical event related responses. The high lightened areas mark the statistically analyzed areas of MMR, P3a and RON.
Mentions: Auditory ERPs are displayed at Figure 2, their novel minus standard difference waves, difference topographies and corresponding SCDs are displayed at Figure 3. The ANOVA computed for the N1 refractoriness effects (peak 100 ± 10 ms) in adults revealed no significant main effect or interactions, most importantly the Stimulus Type main effect was not significant (F(1,11) = 2.059, p > 0.17) though there was no different N1 on novels compared to standard sounds.

Bottom Line: Adults showed more efficient reallocation of attention (reflected by RON) under load condition than children.Finally, the P3b elicited by the visual target stimuli was reduced in both age groups when the preceding sound was a novel.Our results give new insights in the development of novelty processing as they (1) reveal that task-irrelevant novel sounds can result in contrary effects on the performance in a visual primary task in children and adults, (2) show a positive ERP deflection to novels rather than an MMN in children, and (3) reveal effects of auditory novels on visual target processing.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Psychology I, University of Leipzig, Seeburgstr, 14-20, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany. ruhnau@uni-leipzig.de

ABSTRACT

Background: We investigated the processing of task-irrelevant and unexpected novel sounds and its modulation by working-memory load in children aged 9-10 and in adults. Environmental sounds (novels) were embedded amongst frequently presented standard sounds in an auditory-visual distraction paradigm. Each sound was followed by a visual target. In two conditions, participants evaluated the position of a visual stimulus (0-back, low load) or compared the position of the current stimulus with the one two trials before (2-back, high load). Processing of novel sounds were measured with reaction times, hit rates and the auditory event-related brain potentials (ERPs) Mismatch Negativity (MMN), P3a, Reorienting Negativity (RON) and visual P3b.

Results: In both memory load conditions novels impaired task performance in adults whereas they improved performance in children. Auditory ERPs reflect age-related differences in the time-window of the MMN as children showed a positive ERP deflection to novels whereas adults lack an MMN. The attention switch towards the task irrelevant novel (reflected by P3a) was comparable between the age groups. Adults showed more efficient reallocation of attention (reflected by RON) under load condition than children. Finally, the P3b elicited by the visual target stimuli was reduced in both age groups when the preceding sound was a novel.

Conclusion: Our results give new insights in the development of novelty processing as they (1) reveal that task-irrelevant novel sounds can result in contrary effects on the performance in a visual primary task in children and adults, (2) show a positive ERP deflection to novels rather than an MMN in children, and (3) reveal effects of auditory novels on visual target processing.

Show MeSH