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Computer-based assessment of the executive functions in children

Chesters, Matthew Howell Jones; (1998) Computer-based assessment of the executive functions in children. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Recent work in experimental psychopathology has shown that the profound developmental psychopathologies, such as autism and ADHD, are associated with deficits in frontal lobe or executive functions. These results may afford new measures of psychopathology, and help in the modelling of disorders, or generation of interventions. However, different disorders are associated with different executive deficits; the full range of executive functions have yet to be investigated; and there may be quantitative rather than qualitative differences between disordered and normally developing children. This study reports on the development of a computer- based battery for assessment of the executive functions in children, and provides preliminary data on its use. Normally developing children (five boys and five girls, from each of the school years 3, 4, 5 and 6) were assessed on five executive function tests. One test assessed cognitive inhibition; another motor inhibition. Three tests involved shifling mental set from one task to another (colour- or shape-naming). In the simple shift condition, colour patches or shapes appeared, and the child had to shift tasks every two trials. In a cross-talk condition, coloured shapes were presented (which could be colour- or shape-named) but the test still involved predictably shifting tasks every two trials. In a cued shift condition, colours and shapes were presented unpredictably, so that only the stimulus cued the response. The results show that children's speed and accuracy on most tests tends to improve with age, but performance was relatively independent of general intellectual ability, and response time is a better index of performance than error rates. The implications and opportunities for future research using similar paradigms are discussed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Computer-based assessment of the executive functions in children
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Executive functions
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099539
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