In the adult brain, biases in the allocation of spatial attention can be measured using a line bisection task and are directly relatable to neural attention signals in the fronto-parietal attention network. Behavioral studies on the development of spatial biases have yielded a host of inconsistent results, likely due to variance in sample size, definition of experimental groups, and motor confounds introduced by using a paper-and-pencil version of a line bisection task. Here, we used a perceptual, computerized version of this task and examined the development of spatial biases in 459 children from grades 1–8 and 61 college freshmen. We found that children in early elementary grades exerted a significant leftward bias that gradually diminished with advancing grade level. We further show that among children in early elementary school grades, the degree of leftward spatial bias predicted better performance on a rapid automatized naming test, a predictor of reading ability. Significant leftward biases in early elementary school grades may be due to reading experience, thereby reflecting an interaction of the attention network with the evolving reading network.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- cognitive development
- line bisection task
- visuo-spatial attention