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Individual differences in 10-month-olds' performance on the A-not-B task
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2014 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0036-5564, E-ISSN 1467-9450, Vol. 55, no 2, 130-135 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study used the classical A-not-B task (Piaget, ) to explore individual differences in cognitive flexibility in 10-month-old infants by: (1) examining how differences in search performance during A trials relate to search performance during B trials; (2) studying the relation between temperamental dimensions and A-not-B performance; and (3) investigating differences in search performance between looking and reaching responses within the same task. Forty infants were tested on a fixed-design-version of the A-not-B task, not allowing for training or individual adjustment, but instead eliciting additional search behaviors than the common correct responses in A trials and perseverative errors in B trials. Infants were also rated by their parents on the temperamental scales Activity level and Attention span. The main findings were: (1) performance on A trials affected B trial performance, with infants being more correct on A trials having more incorrect and less 'no search' responses on B trials; (2) activity level, but not attention span, was related to performance on the A-not-B task, with infants performing better on A trials having a lower activity level; and (3) there were a few differences in performance with regard to modality, indicating that responding correctly by looking may be less cognitively demanding than doing so by reaching. This study demonstrated that 10-month-olds show a wide variation of search behaviors on this A-not-B task, resulting in individual differences in performance. These differences are suggested to reflect variation in temperamental activity level as well as maturity of short term/working memory, inhibition and cognitive flexibility.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 55, no 2, 130-135 p.
Keyword [en]
infancy, individual differences, cognitive flexibility, A-not-B
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-223882DOI: 10.1111/sjop.12109ISI: 000333054400006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-223882DiVA: diva2:715633
Available from: 2014-05-05 Created: 2014-04-28 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Attention and the Early Development of Cognitive Control: Infants’ and Toddlers’ Performance on the A-not-B task
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Attention and the Early Development of Cognitive Control: Infants’ and Toddlers’ Performance on the A-not-B task
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the first years of life there is a dramatic development of cognitive abilities supporting cognitive control of behavior. This development allows the child to make future-oriented predictions and to increasingly act in a goal-directed manner. The early development of cognitive control is presumably closely tied to the maturation of the attention systems. Further, attentional control processes have been suggested to be the unifying construct underlying cognitive control in both children and adults. The general aim of the present thesis was to further our understanding of the early development of cognitive control. This aim was approached by examining the attention processes underlying cognitive control in infancy and toddlerhood, with a particular focus on age-related improvements in attentional control. This thesis consists of three studies that have used the A-not-B paradigm to investigated infants’ and toddlers’ ability to search for a hidden object or to correctly anticipate the reappearance of a hidden object. The A-not-B paradigm is one of few well-studied paradigms for research on the early development of cognitive control and this paradigm involves conflict resolution and requires a flexible shift of response set to achieve a goal.

Study I of this thesis examined individual differences in 10-month-olds’ ability to search for a hidden object in a manual A-not-B task. We investigated the infants’ search behavior, both in terms looking and reaching responses, the relation between individual differences in performance on A and B trials, and also the relation between the two response modalities.

Study II used eye tracking and focused on the role of attentional demand on 10- and 12-month-olds’ ability to anticipate the reappearance of a hidden object. This study intended to clarify age-related improvements, particularly in relation to the ability to resist visually distracting information that interfered with the task at hand.

Study III also employed an eye tracker to measure 18-month-olds’ predictive eye movements in anticipation of a hidden object under conditions marked by different attention demands. This study not only investigated the toddlers’ ability to overcome a visual distractor, but also their ability to keep a representation in actively in mind over different delays. In addition, the 18-month-olds’ performance was compared to that of an adult group to shed further light on the development of attentional control in children.

In conclusion, this thesis demonstrated that important age-related improvements in cognitive control take place by the end of the first year of life and between 12 and 18 months of age. More specifically, with increasing age, the children were able to resolve higher levels of conflict thereby demonstrating improvements in attentional control. In interpreting the present data, we argue that this development is gradual, developing from variable to stable and also that the attentional control process is best described as continuous rather dichotomous in infancy and toddlerhood. Based on our findings, future research should be motivated to examine changes in attentional control processes in relation to the early development of cognitive development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2012. 67 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 74
Keyword
cognitive control, attention, eye tracking, children, A-not-B
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-164299 (URN)978-91-554-8253-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-02-24, Gustavianium, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-02-02 Created: 2011-12-19 Last updated: 2016-02-25Bibliographically approved
2. Attention and Self-regulation in Infancy and Toddlerhood: The Early Development of Executive Functions and Effortful Control
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Attention and Self-regulation in Infancy and Toddlerhood: The Early Development of Executive Functions and Effortful Control
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Executive functions are higher-order cognitive functions underlying self-regulation of behavior. That is, executive functions make it possible to resolve internal conflicts and behave according to future goals rather than acting on sudden impulses or going on automatic. Very similarly, the temperamental construct of effortful control is defined as being able to inhibit a dominant response, instead acting on a subdominant response. In children, poor executive functions and low levels of effortful control have both been associated with several negative outcomes, such as lower academic achievements and externalizing behavior problems. Although these self-regulatory functions seem to play a very important role in child development, little is still known about them during the first years of life. Furthering the knowledge of early executive functions and effortful control would likely increase the chances of early detection of risks of poor development. The present thesis aimed to investigate individual differences in executive functions and effortful control in infancy and toddlerhood, as well as the early development of, and the relation between, these two functions. The thesis further aimed to investigate the relationship between the self-regulatory functions and activity level, and the possibility of predicting toddlerhood self-regulatory functions with sustained attention in infancy. In Study I, individual differences in 10-month-olds’ rudimentary executive functions were found, and these were related to temperamental activity level. In Study II, individual differences in sustained attention in infancy were found to predict toddlerhood executive functions and effortful control. Both these self-regulatory functions improved significantly from infancy to toddlerhood although the individual stability was low. Executive functions and effortful control were related in toddlerhood but not in infancy. In Study III we replicated and extended the finding of a longitudinal relation between infant sustained attention and toddlerhood executive functions. In addition, partial support for the proposition that executive functions develop in a hierarchical fashion was found, with simple inhibition being predictive of more complex forms of working memory two years later. The results from the three studies combined contribute to a better understanding of the early development of the self-regulatory functions executive functions and effortful control.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 71 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 117
Keyword
Executive functions, Effortful control, Sustained attention, Infancy
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-263510 (URN)978-91-554-9355-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-11-20, Sal IX, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-10-27 Created: 2015-10-01 Last updated: 2015-11-10

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Johansson, MariaForssman, LindaBohlin, Gunilla

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