Neurocognitive development in 5- to 16-year-old North American children: a cross-sectional study

Child Neuropsychol. 2013 Sep;19(5):516-39. doi: 10.1080/09297049.2012.705822. Epub 2012 Jul 9.


Executive functions are thought to be the latest functions to mature. However, this view has not been tested by assessing simultaneously memory, perception of emotions, visuospatial perception, and visuoconstructional skills. NEPSY II norm data from 1000 5- to 16-year-old U.S. children were obtained. Fifteen NEPSY II subtests with no floor or ceiling effects in any age group and no major changes in task type were selected. The 16-year level was attained at age 12 to 13 in all subtests with two exceptions: social perception (age 10 to 11) and narrative memory (age 14). Trend analyses showed that development was rapid in the age range 5 to 9 years followed by a deceleration in the rate of development. Peak performances were reached at 14 to 16 years but later in some subtests representing executive functions, verbal memory, and visuospatial performance. Thus, the study specified developmental time tables of neurocognitive functions. It demonstrated that not only executive functions but also verbal memory and visuospatial performance continue to develop beyond age 16.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Social Perception*
  • United States