Developmental transformations in the structure of executive functions

Johanna Hartung, Laura E. Engelhardt, Megan L. Thibodeaux, K. Paige Harden, Elliot M. Tucker-Drob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Comparisons of results from studies of executive function (EF) in early childhood to those of EF in middle and late childhood suggest that individual differences in EFs may differentiate from a unitary factor in early childhood to an increasingly multidimensional structure in middle childhood and adolescence. We tested whether associations among EFs strengthened from middle childhood to adolescence using cross-sectional data from a population-based sample of 1019 children aged 7–15 years (M = 10.79 years). Participants completed a comprehensive EF battery consisting of 15 measures tapping working memory, updating, switching, and inhibition domains. Moderated factor analysis, local structural equation modeling, and network modeling were applied to assess age-related differences in the factor structure of EF. Results from all three approaches indicated that working memory and updating maintained uniformly high patterns of covariation across the age range, whereas inhibition became increasingly differentiated from the other three domains beginning around 10 years of age. However, consistent with past research, inhibition tasks were only weakly intercorrelated. Age-related differences in the organization of switching abilities were mixed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104681
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume189
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020

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Executive Function
Short-Term Memory
Aptitude
Individuality
Statistical Factor Analysis
Research
Population
Inhibition (Psychology)

Keywords

  • Age differentiation
  • Development
  • Executive function
  • Inhibition
  • Local structural equation models
  • Moderated factor analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

Developmental transformations in the structure of executive functions. / Hartung, Johanna; Engelhardt, Laura E.; Thibodeaux, Megan L.; Harden, K. Paige; Tucker-Drob, Elliot M.

In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol. 189, 104681, 01.2020.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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