Saliency-Driven Visual Search Performance in Toddlers with Low vs. High Touch screen Use

Ana Portugal, Rachael Bedford, Celeste H.M. Cheung, Teodora Gliga, Tim J Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

6 Citations (SciVal)


During toddlerhood, a peak period of neurocognitive development, increased exposure to sensory stimulation through touch screen use, may influence developing attentional control.1 While TV’s rapidly changing, noncontingent flow of sensory information has been hypothesized to lead to difficulties voluntarily focusing attention,2 video gaming’s contingent and cognitively demanding sensory environments may improve visual processing and attention.3 Toddler touch screen use involves both exogenous attention, driven by salient audio-visual features, and endogenous/voluntary control, eg, video selection and app use.4,5

The current study compared high– and low–touch screen users on a gaze-contingent visual search paradigm,6 assessing exogenous, saliency-based attention (single-feature trials), and endogenous attention control (conjunction trials).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-97
Number of pages2
JournalJAMA Pediatrics
Issue number1
Early online date10 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding/Support: The TABLET Project was funded by a Philip Leverhulme Prize (PLP-2013–028) to Dr Smith. Dr Portugal was supported by an Economic and Social Research Council studentship. Dr Bedford was supported by a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship and King’s Prize Fellowship (204823/Z/16/Z).

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