Eye gaze and individual differences consistent with learned attention in associative blocking and highlighting.
Kamin blocking (KB) is a function within selective attention found to be deficient in schizophrenia. Disparate results in the KB literature, specifically regarding age and gender effects, suggest that we do not yet have a comprehensive understanding of KB in normal human development. The aim of this study is to provide a thorough investigation into the development and occurrence of KB in a normal population. The design replicated and extended a study by Oades, Roepcke, and Schepker (1996). KB is measured using a computer game called the "mouse in the house." Participants must use a joystick to move an icon around a set floor plan, to find a hidden location. These locations are cued by sets of colors, which denote the KB paradigm. Data was collected on 222 participants across 5 age groups (6-8 years; 9-12 years; 13-17 years; 18-21 years; 22+ years). Comparisons were carried out for age and gender effects. KB was observed in all age groups, but there was no significant effect of age on mean KB score. A measure of frequency of participants who showed KB did show a significant increase with age. A significant difference was found between males and females, with females having higher KB score than males. The gender difference was present from the earliest age tested. Our findings suggest significant age and gender differences in the manifestation of selective attention and information processing abilities. This has implications for understanding the development of attention and the understanding of the age and gender dependence of the development of schizophrenia.