Executive functioning in preschool children: performance on A-not-B and other delayed response format tasks

Brain Cogn. 1999 Nov;41(2):178-99. doi: 10.1006/brcg.1999.1117.


The A-not-B (AB) task has been hypothesized to measure executive/frontal lobe function; however, the developmental and measurement characteristics of this task have not been investigated. Performances on AB and comparison tasks adapted from developmental and neuroscience literature was examined in 117 preschool children (ages 23-66 months). Age significantly predicted performance on AB, Delayed Alternation, Spatial Reversal, Color Reversal, and Self-Control tasks. A four-factor analytic model best fit task performance data. AB task indices loaded on two factors with measures from the Self-Control and Delayed Alternation tasks, respectively. AB indices did not load with those from the reversal tasks despite similarities in task administration and presumed cognitive demand (working memory). These results indicate that AB is sensitive to individual differences in age-related performance in preschool children and suggest that AB performance is related to both working memory and inhibition processes in this age range.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Characteristics