Executive Function: Generational and Environmental Influences
Executive Function Development
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Human Sciences Undergraduate Research Theses; 2014
Executive function (EF) is one of the most important cognitive processes, and EF dysfunction can contribute to an array of negative outcomes. There is evidence that the preschool years are a time of rapid development in EF; additionally, there is evidence that factors such as maternal EF, depression, parenting styles, and SES can influence the development of EF during a child’s life. The current study hypothesized that maternal EF, SES, and maternal depression will all act negatively on the development of a child’s EF, and also that maternal depression will negatively influence maternal EF. Participants included 90 mother-child dyads from the Columbus area. All of the children recruited were between 3 and 3½ years old. EF was assessed in laboratory setting, with the Wisconsin Card Sort Test (WCST) being used to measure maternal EF. Child EF was assessed on two dimensions; attentional flexibility and inhibitory control. Attentional flexibility was assessed using the Dimensional Change Card Sort Test (DCCS), and inhibitory control with the Bear and Dragon, Shapes, and Day and Night tasks. Maternal depression was assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD), and family income was used as a proxy for SES. Multiple regression analysis revealed a connection between maternal depression and maternal perseverative errors on child EF performance, as well as a moderate correlation between maternal depression and maternal EF. However, no relationship was found between SES and child EF. The results of this study add to the understanding of the generational and environmental influences on a child’s EF development during the pre-school years; understanding which can be useful in preventing the negative outcomes associated with EF deficits.
Academic Major: Psychology