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Poor executive functioning in children born very preterm: Using dual-task methodology to untangle alternative theoretical interpretations

Delane, L., Bayliss, D.M., Campbell, C., Reid, C., French, N. and Anderson, M. (2016) Poor executive functioning in children born very preterm: Using dual-task methodology to untangle alternative theoretical interpretations. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 152 . pp. 264-277.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2016.08.002
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Abstract

Two alternative theoretical explanations have been proposed for the difficulties with executive functioning observed in children born very preterm (VP; ⩽32 weeks): a general vulnerability (i.e., in attentional and processing capacities), which has a cascading impact on increasingly complex cognitive functions, and a selective vulnerability in executive-level cognitive processes. It is difficult to tease apart this important theoretical distinction because executive functioning tasks are, by default, complex tasks. In the current study, an experimental dual-task design was employed to control for differences in task difficulty in order to isolate executive control. Participants included 50 VP children (mean age = 7.29 years) and 39 term peer controls (mean age = 7.28 years). The VP group exhibited a greater dual-task cost relative to controls despite experimental control for individual differences in baseline ability on the component single tasks. This group difference also remained under a condition of reduced task difficulty. These results suggest a selective vulnerability in executive-level processes that can be separated from any general vulnerability.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2016 Elsevier Inc.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/33477
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