Look Here! The Development of Attentional Orienting to Symbolic Cues

Krisztina Varga Jakobsen, Janet E. Frick, Elizabeth A. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Although much research has examined the development of orienting to social directional cues (e.g., eye gaze), little is known about the development of orienting to nonsocial directional cues, such as arrows. Arrow cues have been used in numerous studies as a means to study attentional orienting, but the development of children's understanding of such cues has not previously been examined. It remains unclear to what extent the social nature of a cue is important for directing attention; further, it is unknown whether symbolic understanding is necessary for young children to be cued by symbols such as arrows. The present investigation explored when and how arrows cue children's attention. Our results suggest that children younger than 5 years of age orient their attention using the perceptual properties of arrows, and it is not until sometime after 5 years of age that children use the conceptual meaning of arrows to orient their attention. Understanding of the directional meaning of arrows may develop through both exogenous and endogenous orienting; we discuss possible contributions of the compression-based and selection-based learning systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-249
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Cognition and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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