Children’s attention has been the subject of a lot of discussion in the last few decades, and its “deficits” the cause of much frustration, contention and, in many cases, medication. A new study from The Ohio State University finds that there’s at least one pretty logical reason for kids’ wandering attention: Compared to grownups, kids aren’t quite as good at paying attention to what they’re told to—but they’re better at paying attention to what they aren’t. This may mean that kids ultimately pick up more details about their environments than grownups do.
The new study, published this month in Psychological Science, had 35 four- and five-year-old kids and as many adults look at two differently colored shapes on a computer screen. They were told to pay attention to just one of the two (say, a green shape vs. a blue one), and determine whether a green prompt in the next screen was the same shade they’d seen earlier.
It turned out that the adults were a little better at the task: They got 94% of the trials right, vs. 86% among the kids. But the kids were better at determining whether the shape that they weren’t told to pay attention had changed color—they correctly noticed changes 77% of the time, vs. 63% among the adults.
Read the whole story: Forbes