We reanalyzed, modeled and simulated Event-Related Potential (ERP) data from 13 healthy children (Mean age = 5.12, Standard Deviation = 0.75) during a computerized visual sustained target detection task. Extending an ERP-based ACT–R (Adaptive Control of Thought–Rational) neurocognitive modeling approach, we tested whether visual sustained selective-set attention in preschool children involves the enhancement of neural response to targets, and it shows key adult-like features (neurofunctional homology). Blinded automatic peaks analysis was conducted on vincentized binned grand ERP averages. Time-course and distribution of scalp activity were detailed through topographic mapping and paths analysis. Reaction times and accuracy were also measured. Adult Magnetic Resonance Imaging-based mapping using ACT–R dipole source modeling and electric-field spiking simulation provided very good fit with the actual ERP data (R2 > 0.70). In most electrodes, between 50 and 400 ms, ERPs concurrent with target presentation were enhanced relative to distractor, without manual response confounds. Triangulation of peak analysis, ACT–R modeling and simulation for the entire ERP epochs up to the moment of manual response (~700 ms, on average) suggested converging evidence of distinct but interacting processes of enhancement and planning for response release/inhibition, respectively. The latter involved functions and structures consistent with adult ERP activity which might correspond to a large-scale network, implicating Dorsal and Ventral Attentional Networks, corticostriatal loops, and subcortical hubs connected to prefrontal cortex top-down working memory executive control. Although preliminary, the present approach suggests novel directions for further tests and falsifiable hypotheses on the origins and development of visual selective attention and their ERP correlates.

ACT, Dipole analysis, Event-related potentials, Executive functions, Preschool children, R, Self-regulation, Spiking simulation, Visual sustained selective attention, Voluntary control
Brain Sciences
Department of Neuroscience

D'Angiulli, A, Pham, D.A.T. (Dao Anh Thu), Leisman, G. (Gerry), & Goldfield, G. (Gary). (2020). Evaluating preschool visual attentional selective-set: Preliminary erp modeling and simulation of target enhancement homology. Brain Sciences, 10(2). doi:10.3390/brainsci10020124