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From Brain to Behaviour: A Latent Variable Study of Event-Related Potentials and Executive Functions in Children

Brydges, C.R., Fox, A.M., Reid, C. and Anderson, M. (2013) From Brain to Behaviour: A Latent Variable Study of Event-Related Potentials and Executive Functions in Children. In: ACNS 2013 - The 4th Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Conference, 28 November - 1 December, Clayton, Melbourne, Australia.

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Background: Executive functions (EFs) are commonly theorised to be related yet separable constructs in adults, and specific EFs, such as prepotent response inhibition and working memory, are thought to have clear and distinct neural underpinnings. However, recent evidence suggests that EFs are unitary in children up to about 9 years of age. The aim of the current study was to test the hypothesis that event-related potential (ERP) components of individual EFs are related to behavioural performance, despite EFs being psychometrically indistinguishable in children. Specifically, P3b ERP (associated with updating of working memory), N2 ERP, and N2 difference waveform (both associated with inhibition) latent variables were created and entered into confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation models with a unitary executive functioning factor.
Methods: Children aged 7-9 years (N = 215) completed eight measures of inhibition, working memory, and shifting. A modified flanker task was also completed during which EEG data were recorded.
Results: The P3b ERP and the N2 difference waveform factors both significantly correlated with (and were predictors of) the executive functioning factor; however, the N2 ERP factor was not.
Discussion: These results provide support for the utility of ERPs as a counterpoint to psychometric measures of executive functioning, and, more broadly, for the relationship between brain and behaviour.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Publisher: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Conference Website:
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