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Keywords:

  • P3a;
  • Late negativity;
  • Development;
  • Attention;
  • Distraction;
  • Auditory event-related potentials

Abstract

Distractibility was investigated in three age groups of children (8–9, 10–11, and 12–13 years) with event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and performance measures in a forced-choice visual task. Distraction was reflected by increased reaction times (RTs) and decreased performance accuracy in the visual discrimination task following presentation of unexpected novel sounds. The amplitude of the late portion of the P3a elicited by novel sounds was largest for the youngest group and showed a centrally dominant scalp distribution and smallest for the oldest group with a frontal scalp distribution. A frontally dominant late negativity (LN) that was largest in the youngest group followed the P3a. Correlation between the RT increase caused by the distracting novel sounds and the amplitude of the LN elicited by these sounds suggested that the LN is associated with the degree of attention engaged by the distracting sounds.