Using a longitudinal study design, a group of 94 adolescents participated in a visual search task and a visuospatial ability task yearly for four consecutive years. We analyzed the association between changes in visuospatial ability and changes in visual search performance and behavior and estimated additional effects of age and task repetition. Visuospatial ability was measured with the Design Organization Test (DOT). Search performance was analyzed in terms of reaction time and response accuracy. Search behavior was analyzed in terms of the number of fixations per trial, the saccade amplitude, and the distribution of fixations over different types of elements. We found that both the increase in age and the yearly repetition of the DOT had a positive effect on visuospatial ability. We show that the acceleration of visual search during childhood can be explained by the increase in visuospatial abilities with age during adolescence. With the yearly task repetition, visual search became faster and more accurate, while fewer fixations were made with larger saccade amplitudes. The combination of increasing visuospatial ability and task repetition makes visual search more effective and might increase the performance of many daily tasks during adolescence.

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Keywords Adolescence, design organization test, development, fixation duration, foveal discrimination, longitudinal, peripheral selection, saccade selection, visual search, visuospatial ability
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Journal Applied Neuropsychology: Child
Burggraaf, R, van der Geest, J.N, Hooge, I.Th.C, & Frens, M.A. (2019). Developmental changes in visual search are determined by changing visuospatial abilities and task repetition: a longitudinal study in adolescents. Applied Neuropsychology: Child. doi:10.1080/21622965.2019.1627211