versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027
ISON, Mirta Susana y ANTA, Fernando Gabriel. Normative study on Perception of Differences Test (CARAS) in children from Mendoza. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2006, vol.23, n.2, pp. 203-231. ISSN 1668-7027.
It is a necessary condition for the person to count with proper attention tools during the learning process. Taken to a school context, this means that the student must develop certain skills to focus and keep attention efficiently while doing a task. Attention is defined as a modular-natured multiple mechanisms divided into various sub-mechanisms, coordinated among them and controlled by various areas of the brain (Posner & Petersen, 1990). These sub-mechanisms could be involved in the selection of the attention focus (focused attention), its retaining for a certain time (sustained attention), as well as the movement of the attention focus from one stimulus to a new fixation point (attention switch). The difficult nature and organization of attention mechanisms could pave the way to controlling subject cognition and action mainly when facing new carefully planned situations (Rosselló i Mir, 1998). A switch in any of the submechanisms mentioned above could lead to attention-dysfunction. Precise diagnosis of attention-dysfunctions in children is definitely not an easy task. Within a school context, attention problems are a risk factor leading to academic failure, thus affecting the academic and social performance of the child. Herewith, assessing attention skills in children by means of valid trustworthy tools and adapted to our school population, becomes relevant. Carrying out a precise diagnosis and adapting psychoeducational intervention programs would stop failure and frustration cycles, tending to increase the feeling of self confidence in the school child. CARAS - Test on Perception of Differences made by Thurstone in 1941 and later adapted to the Spanish population by Yela (Thurstone & Yela, 1985) is used to evaluate attention and perceptive skills. It is the task of the subject, being children in this case, to point out significant stimuli among a larger group of stimuli acting as distractors. What makes this technique so useful is its capacity to locate malfunctions in the visual selective attention mechanism. The purpose of this work is to present the Test on Perception of Differences (CARAS) which aim is to explore attention focus and perceptive attitude to discriminate similarities and differences in partially ordered stimuli patterns. The experience was carried out in the Province of Mendoza (Argentina) with children between 7 and 12 years old, attending city schools at risk for poverty. Test on Perception of Differences was administered to a random simple, composed by 2,124 children, 1,090 boys and 1,034 girls with ages between 7 and 12 years old. These school children attended primary schools at risk for poverty, in the suburbs of Mendoza and were between second and seventh grade in Basic General Learning. Direct scores [success - (failures + omissions)] were obtained within each sex and age range, to later determine accumulative frequencies further transformed into percentile ranges. Results show that the school context plays a significant influence (city or urban) on the performance of focused attention only in 8-years-old girls [F Hotelling (1, 473) = 7.56; p < .006], 12-years-old girls [F Hotelling (1, 122) = 10.57; p < .002] and 12-years-old boys [F Hotelling (1, 122) = 10.57; p < .000003] in city schools. These groups of children scored higher in the attention test as compared to girls and boys of the same age in urban (poorest) schools. At evaluating medium scores in focused attention, obtained in boys and girls attending city schools, as age increases, so does the score. Except for 12-years-old boys and girls whose direct medium scores decrease, a similar situation was observed in groups of urban (poorest) schools. One of the hypotheses on attention evolving development explains that attention development is linked to general cognitive development. Only one side of attention development, that is, attention control, is developed more independently than the rest of the cognitive processes (Hagen & Wilson, 1982). On this theoretical basis, it is 12-years-old children of poorest schools who present less developed attention self-control in relation to similarly aged children of city schools. However, this result deserves further research work. The application of CARAS Test within a school context aims to obtain a closer deficit diagnosis in focused attention, as well as in problematic stimuli discrimination. Hence, this test evaluates whether the intentional behaviour a child can present in class, is closely connected to correct stimuli discrimination in visual search tasks, which expect an attention selective mechanism. This technique enriches psychodiagnosis in school oriented tasks.
Palabras clave : Test on Perception of Differences; Attentional disfunction in children; Attention test in children.