Extended Visual Fixation and Distractibility in Children from Six to Twenty-Four Months of Age



Distractibility during extended visual fixations in children 6 months to 2 years of age was examined. A children's Sesame Street movie (Follow That Bird) was presented to children (N=40) for a minimum of 20 min while fixation was videotaped and heart rate was recorded. Distractors (computer-generated patterns or another Sesame Street movie) were presented on an adjacent television screen. Consistent with prior research with older preschool-age children, the latency to turn toward the distractor was a function of the length of the look occurring before distractor onset. For the period immediately before distractor onset, children had a greater sustained lowered heart rate for the trials on which they continued looking at the center television monitor than for the trials on which they looked toward the distractor. This pattern of distractibility suggests attention increases over the course of a look toward the television, and that heart rate changes reflect this increase in attention.