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, 10 (3), 201-11

Examining the Development of Attention and Executive Functions in Children With a Novel Paradigm

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Examining the Development of Attention and Executive Functions in Children With a Novel Paradigm

Ester I Klimkeit et al. Child Neuropsychol.

Abstract

The development of attention and executive functions in normal children (7-12 years) was investigated using a novel selective reaching task, which involved reaching as rapidly as possible towards a target, while at times having to ignore a distractor. The information processing paradigm allowed the measurement of various distinct dimensions of behaviour within a single task. The largest improvements in vigilance, set-shifting, response inhibition, selective attention, and impulsive responding were observed to occur between the ages of 8 and 10, with a plateau in performance between 10 and 12 years of age. These findings, consistent with a step-wise model of development, coincide with the observed developmental spurt in frontal brain functions between 7 and 10 years of age, and indicate that attention and executive functions develop in parallel. This task appears to be a useful research tool in the assessment of attention and executive functions, within a single task. Thus it may have a role in determining which cognitive functions are most affected in different childhood disorders.

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