Executive Function Is Associated with Social Competence in Preschool-Aged Children Born Preterm or Full Term

Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, United States
Early human development (Impact Factor: 1.79). 06/2014; 90(6). DOI: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2014.02.011


Executive function (EF), defined as higher-order cognitive processes used in planning and organizing actions and emotions, is often impaired in children born preterm. Few studies have assessed social competence, the processes and resources required to meet social demands and achieve social goals, in children born preterm. The relations between EF and social competence in preterm and full term preschoolers have not been well characterized.

To characterize social competence and assess the relationship between EF and social competence in preschool-aged children born preterm or full term.

Study design
Cross-sectional study.

Study subjects had a history of preterm birth (≤ 34 weeks of gestation) and birth weight < 2500 g (n = 70). Controls were born full term (≥ 37 weeks) (n = 79).

Outcome measures
Children completed a battery of EF tasks; a mean age-adjusted z-score for the battery was generated for each child. Parents rated child EF on one scale and child social competence on two standardized scales.

Compared to full term children, preterm children showed a lower mean EF battery z-score, poorer parent-rated EF, and poorer scores on the two social competence scales. In hierarchical multiple regression models, EF battery z-score and parent-rated EF made independent contributions to both measures of social competence. Preterm birth explained additional variance for one measure of social competence.

Standard assessment of EF skills and social competence in young preschool children, including children born preterm, may identify at-risk children for long-term social difficulties and may also provide targets for intervention.

35 Reads
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Pediatric brain tumor (BT) survivors are at risk for psychosocial late effects across many domains of functioning, including neurocognitive and social. The literature on the social competence of pediatric BT survivors is still developing and future research is needed that integrates developmental and cognitive neuroscience research methodologies to identify predictors of survivor social adjustment and interventions to ameliorate problems. This review discusses the current literature on survivor social functioning through a model of social competence in childhood brain disorder and suggests future directions based on this model. Interventions pursuing change in survivor social adjustment should consider targeting social ecological factors. Pediatr Blood Cancer © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Pediatric Blood & Cancer
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction (BIND) is the constellation of neurologic sequelae following milder degrees of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia than are associated with kernicterus. Clinically, BIND may manifest after the neonatal period as developmental delay, cognitive impairment, disordered executive function, and behavioral and psychiatric disorders. However, there is controversy regarding the relative contribution of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia versus other risk factors to the development of later neurodevelopmental disorders in children with BIND. In this review, we focus on the empiric data from the past 25 years regarding neurodevelopmental outcomes and BIND, including specific effects on developmental delay, cognition, speech and language development, executive function, and the neurobehavioral disorders, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Research Findings: This study examined the learning effects of collaborative group work under heterogeneous group composition among 5-year-old children, especially in terms of their social skills. To this end, the study utilized an experimental research design wherein 3 groups of differently composed dyads and a group of students who worked alone completed classification and perspective-taking tasks. The dyads consisted of a low-ability child and either a socially advanced, an intellectually advanced, or a (both) socially and intellectually advanced peer. First, we found that children with high ability and those with low ability in collaborative dyads had higher learning gains than singletons. This finding supports the benefits of collaborative learning for experts as well as novices and the effectiveness of mixed-ability groupings for young children’s learning. Second, we observed that low-ability children working with socially advanced partners, even partners with low cognitive ability, showed significantly greater improvement in the perspective-taking task than those working with a cognitively advanced but socially less skilled partner. We discuss the findings in terms of the relation between executive function and social competence and emphasize the value of social skills in cognitive development. Practice or Policy: We propose suggestions for teaching practice and further research.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Early Education and Development
Show more