Executive Functions in Children Aged 6 to 13: A Dimensional and Developmental Study

  • Brocki K
  • Bohlin G
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Abstract

A cross-sectional study using 92 children aged 6 to 13 years investigated the dimensionality and the development of executive functioning. The measures were drawn from developmentally relevant conceptualizations of executive functioning and included a go/no-go task, a verbal fluency task, a continuous performance task, a Stroop-like task, a hand movements task, and a digit span task. Analyses revealed 3 dimensions interpreted as Disinhibition, Speed/arousal, and Working mem-ory/Fluency. Age and sex differences were analyzed for the delineated functions, which means that the results may be taken to represent age effects at the level of spe-cific processes within the executive domain rather than on single tests. Age-depend-ent changes in children's performance on all 3 dimensions were demonstrated, with 3 particularly active stages of maturation: early childhood (6–8 years of age), middle childhood (9–12 years of age), and during early adolescence. Sex differences were only found for the speed/arousal dimension. The results are discussed in terms of 2 developmental executive function frameworks (Barkley, 1997b; Roberts & Pen-nington, 1996), where inhibition and the interaction between inhibition and working memory, respectively, are seen as key in the development of executive functioning. Extended research within developmental psychopathology points to the impor-tance of executive dysfunction in developmental disorders such as conduct disorder, autism, Tourette's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

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Authors

  • Karin C Brocki

  • Gunilla Bohlin

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