The multiple subfunctions of attention: differential developmental gateways to literacy and numeracy.
Steele A., Karmiloff-Smith A., Cornish K., Scerif G.
Attention is construed as multicomponential, but the roles of its distinct subfunctions in shaping the broader developing cognitive landscape are poorly understood. The current study assessed 3- to 6-year-olds (N=83) to: (a) trace developmental trajectories of attentional processes and their structure in early childhood and (b) measure the impact of distinct attention subfunctions on concurrent and longitudinal abilities related to literacy and numeracy. Distinct trajectories across attention measures revealed the emergence of 2 attentional factors, encompassing "executive" and "sustained-selective" processes. Executive attention predicted concurrent abilities across domains at Time 1, whereas sustained-selective attention predicted basic numeracy 1 year later. These concurrent and longitudinal constraints cast a broader light on the unfolding relations between domain-general and domain-specific processes over early childhood.