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Development of Task Switching and Post-Error Slowing in Children

Gupta, R; Kar, BR; Srinivasan, N; (2009) Development of Task Switching and Post-Error Slowing in Children. Behavioral and Brain Functions , 5 , Article 38. 10.1186/1744-9081-5-38. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Executive control processes such as task switching and error processing have been shown to change with age. The present study explored from a developmental perspective whether shared or different mechanisms underlie these processes. Methods: The sample included 180 children (30 in each of the six age groups from 6-11 years) who were required to perform two different tasks: identification of a digit, or counting the number of digits. We computed switch costs as a function of response-repetition, stimulus-response (S-R) compatibility, and post-error-slowing. We also analyzed reaction time distributions. Results and discussion: The results showed a switch cost in the response-repetition condition, with a reduction in switch cost between 7 to 8 and 9 to 10 years of age, and an S-R compatibility effect in 6 to 9 years old children. Reaction time (RT) distributions showed that the decrement in the switch cost is due to the overall decrease in RTs in fast (5th percentile) trials in 9 to 11 year olds, and slow (95th percentile) trials in 7 to 8 and 9 to 11 years old children, in both the task switch and non-switch trials. A major reduction in RT was found between 9 to 11 years in both the response type and S-R compatibility type conditions. RT distributions for post-error trials revealed that the large decrement seen in 7 to 8 and 9 to 10 years old children is primarily due to the sudden decrease in RTs in the fast and slow trials respectively. The developmental pattern of error processing was similar to one component of task switching (switch cost of the response-repetition condition), indicating that inhibition could be a common mechanism underlying both the processes. However, the failure to maintain task set was found only with task switching. Conclusion: The development of task switching and error processing is not gradual. The developmental pattern of error processing is similar to that of the switch cost of the responserepetition condition in task switching, indicating that inhibition could be a common mechanism underlying both processes. The present results have implications for theories of executive control.

Type: Article
Title: Development of Task Switching and Post-Error Slowing in Children
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/1744-9081-5-38
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1744-9081-5-38
Language: English
Additional information: © 2009 Gupta et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1328525
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