The development of conscious control in childhood

Trends Cogn Sci. 2004 Jan;8(1):12-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2003.11.001.


Developmental data suggest that the growth of executive function in childhood can be understood in terms of the development of consciousness. According to the "levels of consciousness" (LOC) model, there are age-related increases in the highest degree of self-reflection or LOC that children are able to muster in response to situational demands. These increases in LOC with age have consequences for the quality of experience, the potential for recall, the complexity of children's explicit knowledge structures, and the possibility of the conscious control of thought, emotion, and action. The hierarchical LOCs identified by this analysis are also useful for understanding the complex structure of conscious experience in adults, and they provide a metric for measuring the level at which consciousness is operating in specific situations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Consciousness*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Mental Recall
  • Personality Development*
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Stereotyped Behavior