Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 105–122 | Cite as

Working Memory, Attention, Inhibition, and Their Relation to Adaptive Functioning and Behavioral/Emotional Symptoms in School-Aged Children

  • Virve Vuontela
  • Synnöve Carlson
  • Anna-Maria Troberg
  • Tuija Fontell
  • Petteri Simola
  • Suvi Saarinen
  • Eeva T. Aronen
Original Article

Abstract

The present study investigated the development of executive functions (EFs) and their associations with performance and behavior at school in 8–12-year-old children. The EFs were measured by computer-based n-back, Continuous Performance and Go/Nogo tasks. School performance was evaluated by Teacher Report Form (TRF) and behavior by TRF and Child Behavior Checklist. The studied dimensions of EF were cognitive efficiency/speed, working memory/attention and inhibitory control. Strong age effects were found for these cognitive abilities (p values <0.01). Inhibitory control was associated with better adaptive functioning (learning, working hard and behaving well), academic performance and less psychiatric symptoms (p values <0.05), specially in 8–9-year-old children. In this youngest age group low inhibitory control was also associated with teacher-reported inattention (p = 0.042). Low inhibitory control was associated with teacher- and parent-reported internalizing symptoms (p < 0.01). These results suggest that maturational factors may underlie low adaptive functioning and psychiatric symptoms during early school years. Further studies are needed to evaluate the association between inhibition and emotional symptoms.

Keywords

Executive function Development Adaptive functioning Behavioral/emotional symptoms 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virve Vuontela
    • 1
  • Synnöve Carlson
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Anna-Maria Troberg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tuija Fontell
    • 2
  • Petteri Simola
    • 2
    • 5
  • Suvi Saarinen
    • 2
  • Eeva T. Aronen
    • 2
  1. 1.Neuroscience Unit, Institute of Biomedicine/PhysiologyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Child Psychiatry, Children’s HospitalHelsinki University Central Hospital and University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Brain Research Unit, O.V. Lounasmaa LaboratoryAalto University School of ScienceEspooFinland
  4. 4.Medical SchoolUniversity of TampereTampereFinland
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyHelsinki UniversityHelsinkiFinland

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