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Parsing Heterogeneity of Executive Function in Typically and Atypically Developing Children: A Conceptual Replication and Exploration of Social Function

Abstract

Executive function (EF), the set of cognitive processes that govern goal-directed behavior, varies within developmental samples and clinical populations. Here, we perform a conceptual replication of prior work (Dajani et al. in Sci Rep 6:36566, 2016) in an independent sample of typically developing children (n = 183) and children with autism spectrum disorder (n = 104). Consistent with previous work, the latent profile analysis of parent-report EF measures provided evidence for three EF classes, which exhibited differential proportions of diagnostic groups. Additionally, children in the impaired EF group exhibited greater levels of social impairment. These results highlight the heterogeneity of EF ability among clinical and non-clinical populations and the link between EF and social abilities.

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Acknowledgments

The authors gratefully acknowledge Paola Odriozola and Bryce Dirks for assistance with data collection. This research was supported in part by the Psychology Research Initiatives Mentorship Experience, Department of Psychology, University of Miami. Support for the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange II (ABIDE II) was provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH 5R21MH107045 and NIMH 5R21MH107045). Support for the work by Lucina Q. Uddin and her team was provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH R01MH107549), the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and a Gabelli Senior Scholar Award from the University of Miami.

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AB, DD, JB, ML, and LU contributed to the study conception and design. Data collection and analyses were performed by AB, DD, WV, MP, and MA. The first draft of the manuscript was written by AB, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Lucina Q. Uddin.

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Baez, A.C., Dajani, D.R., Voorhies, W. et al. Parsing Heterogeneity of Executive Function in Typically and Atypically Developing Children: A Conceptual Replication and Exploration of Social Function. J Autism Dev Disord 50, 707–718 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04290-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04290-9

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Latent profile analysis
  • Dimensional
  • Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function