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Toddlers on touchscreens: immediate effects of gaming and physical activity on cognitive flexibility of 2.5-year-olds in the US

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Abstract

Interactive technologies have become a common play medium for young children; it is not unusual for toddlers to play games on a touchscreen device in lieu of games in the yard. Here, we compared the immediate effects of physical and touchscreen play on 2.5-year-olds’ cognitive flexibility, a key aspect of executive function. For nine minutes, toddlers engaged in touchscreen play or physical play; a third group drew and colored (control group). Next, a sorting task measured cognitive flexibility. The physical-play group outperformed the other two groups. Compared to the control group, toddlers’ cognitive flexibility benefited from physical play, whereas touchscreen play yielded no significant effect. Interestingly, toddlers who played the touchscreen game in a socially interactive way outperformed those who treated gaming as solitary play. Together, the results bear practical implications on whether and how to introduce young children to interactive technologies for play.

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... The general use of screen devices and touch screens, such as iPads, was the subject of 22 of 53 studies (Antrilli & Wang, 2018;Bedford et al., 2016;Clarke & Abbott, 2016;Chen et al., 2013;Gremmen et al., 2016;Haegele et al., 2011;Hu et al., 2020;Kiefer et al., 2015;Konok et al., 2021;Kosmas & Zaphiris, 2020;Lin, 2019;Lin et al., 2017Lin et al., , 2020McNeill et al., 2021Moon et al., 2019;Neumann, 2014Neumann, , 2016Neumann, , 2018Picard et al., 2014;Zheng & Sun, 2021) and the use of specific digital applications/contents such as specific use of touch screen applications used on tablets and iPads was the Below, we summarize our findings into three main categories: ...
... , of which 22 studies were Tier 1(Antrilli & Wang, 2018;Chen et al., 2013;Courage et al., 2021;Desoete & Praet, 2013;Di Lieto et al., 2017;Elimelech & Aram, 2020;Fernández-Molina et al., 2015;Haegele et al., 2011;Herodotou, 2018;Huber et al., 2018;Konok et al., 2021;Liu et al., 2021;Neumann, 2018;O'Toole & Kannass, 2018;Outhwaite et al., 2019;Parish-Morris et al., 2013;Ross et al., 2016;Schmitt et al., 2018;Schroeder & Kirkorian, 2016;Xu et al., 2021;Zhen, 2017), and seven studies were identified as Tier 2(Fikkers et al., Morris et al., 2013;Schmitt et al., 2018;Schroeder & Kirkorian, 2016) and eight quasi-experimental studies were included in the synthesis(Courage et al., 2021;Di Lieto et al., 2017;Herodotou, 2018;Konok et al., 2021;Liu et al., 2021;Ross et al., 2016;Xu et al., 2021;Zhen, 2017). Studies in Tier 2 included one cohort and five cross-sectional studies.All studies in both tiers were exclusively aimed at exploring the association between use of interactive digital devices and cognitive skills and were focused on general use of touchscreen devices(Courage et al., 2021;Konok et al., 2021;McNeill et al., 2021) and educational software system (Fernández-Molina et al., 2015; Haegele et al., 2011; Huber et al., 2018; Outhwaite et al., 2019; Rogowsky et al., 2018; Zhen, 2017), digital applications such as e-books (O'Toole & Kannass, 2018; Parish-Morris et al., 2013), multimedia (Chen et al., 2013), or videogames (Desoete & Praet, 2013; Elimelech & Aram, 2020; Fikkers et al., 2019; Herodotou, 2018; Russo-Johnson et al., 2017; Schmitt et al., 2018; Schroeder & Kirkorian, 2016). ...
... In one study by, reducing media program viewing and limiting electronic app use was positively associated with preschool children's cognitive development. There was less evidence to support the association between interactive digital technology and cognitive flexibility(Antrilli & Wang, 2018), visual perception(Chen et al., 2013), and comprehension(Parish-Morris et al., 2013;Xu et al., 2021). Most studies lacked discussion on how developmental outcomes may vary by age and gender. ...
Article
Background: There is mixed evidence regarding the impact of interactive digital devices on child development. Tentatively some studies suggested that the use of digital devices may correlate negatively with language, executive function and motor skills. However, attempts to amalgamate this evidence has been limited related to the available number of experimental and cohort studies that have evaluated the impact of digital technology use on child development. We conducted this review to determine the impact of interactive digital devices on child development among children aged 7 years or younger. Interactive technology has been defined as methods, tools, or devices that users interact with in order to achieve specific tasks. Data source: CINAHL, MEDLINE, Embase, PsychINFO, Scopus and Google Scholar. Study selection: We used the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology for systematic reviews. Data extraction: Data extraction and synthesis was carried out by two reviewers and checked by a third reviewer. Studies were stratified into tiers depending on the level of evidence provided and the domain of development assessed. Results: Fifty-three studies were eligible for inclusion in the review, 39 tier 1 (Randomized Controlled Trials and quasi-experimental studies) and 16 tier 2 (descriptive studies). Children's use of interactive digital technology was positively associated with receptive language and executive function and negatively associated or unrelated to motor proficiency. Other critical aspects informing the evidence, such as dose of exposure, intensity, or duration were inconsistently reported, making estimates of exposure tentative and imprecise. Conclusion: The studies included in this review were predominantly correlational or comparative in nature and focuses on cognitive domains of learning rather than a specific developmental outcome. It is difficult to generalise our findings beyond the digital devices or applications that have been evaluated by earlier studies. The contextual factors that may moderate the relationship require elaboration in future studies.
... Studies on use of various types of screens other than TV in relation to EF development are still scarce (Antrilli & Wang, 2018;Huber, Yeates, Fleckhammer, & Kaufman, 2018;McNeill et al., 2019). Although computers, tablets, and smartphones are often used by young children to watch movies or videos (Levine, Waite, Bowman, & Kachinsky, 2019), they also allow for a greater active involvement of the user through computer games or apps, making them potentially more beneficial for EF development (Christakis, 2014). ...
... Another characteristic featured in current studies on the link between screen use time and EF is that most of them have employed unitary measures of EF or combinations of several EF measures to explore general executive functioning (Antrilli & Wang, 2018;Barr et al., 2010;Lillard & Peterson, 2011;Nathanson et al., 2014). Although some studies report less differentiated structure of EF in preschool samples (Usai, Viterbori, Traverso, & De Franchis, 2014;Wiebe, Espy, & Charak, 2008), others argue that core EF components are present during the preschool period (Garon et al., 2008). ...
... In line with these expectations, a study by Huber et al. (2018) found that performance of 3-year-olds on a visuospatial working memory task improved after playing an educational app, but performance on a task measuring inhibitory control and shifting did not change. Similarly, a recent study by Antrilli and Wang (2018) found that playing interactive games on a touchscreen tablet yields no positive or negative immediate effects on toddlers' cognitive flexibility. ...
Article
The aim of this study was to explore associations between time spent using various media devices and executive abilities in preschoolers. Participants were 190 children (44.2% female; mean age 58.75 months, SD = 7.27). The Shape School, the Missing Scan and the Head and Feet tasks were administered to children to assess three core executive functions (mental set shifting, working memory, and inhibitory control). Parents provided information on the daily time children spent watching television and using smartphones, tablets, and computers. Parental education was also taken into consideration. Results of multiple linear regression analysis revealed that separate executive abilities were not predicted by use of any type of screen. To conclude, our findings suggest that screen time is not related to executive functions in typically developing low social risk preschoolers who are not overusing screens. Highlights • This study explored the links between time spent using various screen‐media devices and executive abilities in four‐ and five‐year‐olds. • TV, computer, smartphone and tablet use were not related to inhibitory control, working memory and shifting in preschoolers from low‐risk backgrounds. • Future research should take into consideration screen exposure time and content, and analyse relationships between screen use and executive functions longitudinally.
... In terms of the relationship between electronic game play and self-regulation, our current knowledge is limited. One study demonstrated that children show better cognitive flexibility after a short amount of physical play compared to touchscreen play [114]. How the content of electronic games may be related to children's regulatory skills was only investigated by one study that reported negative relations between action content and inhibitory control and no significant relations between action and prosocial content and composite executive function measures [94]. ...
Article
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Self-regulation, the ability to control thoughts, emotions, and behavior for goal-directed activities, shows rapid development in infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool periods. Early self-regulatory skills predict later academic achievement and socioemotional adjustment. An increasing number of studies suggest that screen media use may have negative effects on children's developing self-regulatory skills. In this systematic review, we summarized and integrated the findings of the studies investigating the relationship between young children's screen media use and their self-regulation. We searched the ERIC, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Web of Science databases and identified 39 relevant articles with 45 studies. We found that screen time in infancy is negatively associated with self-regulation, but findings were more inconsistent for later ages suggesting that screen time does not adequately capture the extent of children's screen media use. The findings further indicated that background TV is negatively related to children's self-regulation, and watching fantastical content seems to have immediate negative effects on children's self-regulatory skills. We suggest that future studies should take the content and context of children's screen media use into account and also focus on parent-and home-related factors such as parental behaviors that foster the development of self-regulatory skills.
... These include definitions, prompts, feedback, dialogic questions, pointing, and non-social contingent instructions (e.g., a "ghost" demonstration). Although some have been effective for older preschoolers (Takacs et al., 2014;Kwok et al., 2016;Strouse and Ganea, 2016), there is evidence that they are not as effective for toddlers as is having social contingency provided in person, especially if the problem is complex and likely to tax their cognitive resources (Moser et al., 2015;Zimmerman et al., 2017;Antrilli and Wang, 2018). A related concern is the broader issue of the impact of reduced or altered parent-child interactions when joint play or learning activities are in electronic format (Wooldridge and Shapka, 2012;Parish-Morris et al., 2013;Zosh et al., 2015;Verdine et al., 2016;Munzer et al., 2019). ...
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Children's mathematical skills were considered in relation to executive functions. Using multiple measures--including the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST), dual-task performance, Stroop task, and counting span-it was found that mathematical ability was significantly correlated with all measures of executive functioning, with the exception of dual-task performance. Furthermore, regression analyses revealed that each executive function measure predicted unique variance in mathematics ability. These results are discussed in terms of a central executive with diverse functions (Shallice & Burgess, 1996) and with recent evidence from Miyake, et al. (2000) showing the unity and diversity among executive functions. It is proposed that the particular difficulties for children of lower mathematical ability are lack of inhibition and poor working memory, which result in problems with switching and evaluation of new strategies for dealing with a particular task. The practical and theoretical implications of these results are discussed, along with suggestions for task changes and longitudinal studies that would clarify theoretical and developmental issues related to executive functioning.
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As children’s exposure to touchscreen technology and other digital media increases, so does the need to understand the conditions under which children are able to learn from this technology. The prevalence of screen media in the lives of young children has increased significantly over the last two decades. The use of touchscreen devices among 2-4-year-olds in the USA increased from 39 to 80 % from 2011 to 2013 (Rideout, 2013). Despite frequent engagement with these devices, it is widely recognized that children exhibit a transfer deficit, a term coined to denote children’s consistently poorer learning from television and touchscreens relative to face-to-face interaction (see Barr, Developmental review 30(2):128-154, 2010; Barr, Child Development Perspectives 7(4):205-210, 2013). In this chapter, we focus on understanding the transfer deficit when children engage in imitative learning from touchscreens and television (e.g., Dickerson et al., Developmental Psychobiology 55(7):719-732, 2013, Moser et al., Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 137:137-155, 2015; Zack et al., British Journal of Developmental Psychology 27(Pt 1):13-26, 2009, Zack et al., Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 54(1):20-25, 2013; Zimmermann et al., Child Development, in press). Specifically, we discuss the role of child experience, perceptual and cognitive constraints, transfer distance, and social scaffolding in the transfer deficit. We conclude with lessons for parents and early educators regarding the strategies that may enhance learning across the dimensional divide.
Article
Researchers examined whether contingent experience using a touch screen increased toddlers’ ability to learn a word from video. One hundred and sixteen children (24–36 months) watched an on-screen actress label an object: (a) without interacting, (b) with instructions to touch anywhere on the screen, or (c) with instructions to touch a specific spot (location of labeled object). The youngest children learned from contingent video in the absence of reciprocal interactions with a live social partner, but only when contingent video required specific responses that emphasized important information on the screen. Conversely, this condition appeared to disrupt learning by slightly older children who were otherwise able to learn words by passively viewing noninteractive video. Results are interpreted with respect to selective attention and encoding.
Article
Past research has found that preschool children's ability to learn educational content from interactive media may be hindered by needing to learn how to use a new interactive device. However, little research has examined the instructional supports parents provide while their children use interactive media. Forty-six preschool children and their parents participated in a 30-min interaction with a novel interactive device. Children were assessed before and after the interaction on knowledge of letters and numbers and device skills. Children improved from pre- to posttest on device skills, but not content knowledge. In general, parents used a wide range of strategies during the interaction. Specific parental support for using the device did not result in increased device skills; however, parents who focused their support on content had children who performed better on content assessments. The findings are discussed in terms of the effectiveness of different parent support strategies for children's use of interactive devices and learning of educational content during the preschool years. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
Language learning takes place in the context of social interactions, yet the mechanisms that render social interactions useful for learning language remain unclear. This study focuses on whether social contingency might support word learning. Toddlers aged 24-30 months (N = 36) were exposed to novel verbs in one of three conditions: live interaction training, socially contingent video training over video chat, and noncontingent video training (yoked video). Results suggest that children only learned novel verbs in socially contingent interactions (live interactions and video chat). This study highlights the importance of social contingency in interactions for language learning and informs the literature on learning through screen media as the first study to examine word learning through video chat technology.
Article
According to the Cognitive Complexity and Control (CCC) theory, the development of executive function can be understood in terms of age-related increases in the maximum complexity of the rules children can formulate and use when solving problems. This Monograph describes four studies (9 experiments) designed to test hypotheses derived from the CCC theory and from alternative theoretical perspectives on the development of executive function (memory accounts, inhibition accounts, and redescription accounts). Each study employed a version of the Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS), in which children are required first to sort cards by one pair of rules (e.g., color rules: "If red then here, if blue then there"), and then sort the same cards by another, incompatible pair of rules (e.g., shape rules). Study I found that although most 3- to 4-year-olds failed the standard version of this task (i.e., they perseverated on the preswitch rules during the postswitch phase), they usually performed well when they were required to use four rules (including bidimensional rules) and those rules were not in conflict (i.e., they did not require children to respond in two different ways to the same test card). These findings indicate that children's perseveration cannot be attributed in a straightforward fashion to limitations in children's memory capacity. Study 2 examined the circumstances in which children can use conflicting rules. Three experiments demonstrated effects of rule dimensionality (uni- vs. bidimensional rules) but no effects of stimulus characteristics (1 vs. 2 test cards; spatially integrated vs. separated stimuli). Taken together, these studies suggest that conflict among rules is a key determinant of difficulty, but that conflict interacts with dimensionality. Study 3 examined what types of conflict pose problems for 3- to 4-year-olds by comparing performance on standard, Partial Change, and Total Change versions of the DCCS. Results revealed effects of conflict at the level of specific rules (e.g., "If red, then there"), rather than specific stimulus configurations or dimensions per se, indicating that activation of the preswitch rules persists into the postswitch phase. Study 4 examined whether negative priming also contributes to difficulty on the DCCS. Two experiments suggested that the active selection of preswitch rules against a competing alternative results in the lasting suppression of the alternative. Taken together, the results of these studies provide the basis for a revision of the CCC theory (CCC-r) that specifies more clearly the circumstances in which children will have difficulty using rules at various levels of complexity, provides a more detailed account of how to determine the complexity of rules required in a task, takes account of both the activation and inhibition of rules as a function of experience, and highlights the importance of taking intentionality seriously in the study of executive function.
Article
The efficiency of infants' actions was observed as they picked up and used food-laden spoons that varied in orientation. Two interventions were designed to facilitate efficient action beyond when infants were presented with one spoon in alternating orientations: one spoon was presented in the same orientation for several consecutive trials to help the child use feedback from the previous trial, and two spoons were presented in different orientations to emphasize the effect of the spoon's orientation on performance. These interventions were given separately, and combined, to groups of 9- and 12-month-old infants. Performance was facilitated among 12-month-olds when one spoon was presented several times in the same orientation. The short-term facilitation of performance was limited both by developmental factors and by the type of intervention introduced.
Chapter
Varieties of exercise effects on psychological variablesThe cognitive psychology approachThe energetic approachExercise effects and cognitive-energetic modelsSensorimotor and cognitive functions affected by exerciseLimits of the cognitive-energetic approach and future perspectivesConclusion
Chapter
TimeHistorical Influences and Changes in Children's Use of Leisure TimeTelevision's Introduction into Children's Lives and Time UseThe Rise of Children's ContentCommercialization of Youth through the MediaConclusion References
Article
Although developmental psychology and developmental neuroscience share interests in common problems (e.g., the nature of thought, emotion, consciousness), there has been little cross-fertilization between these disciplines. To facilitate such communication, we discuss 2 major advances in the developmental brain sciences that have potentially profound implications for under standing behavioral development. The first concerns neuroimaging, and the second concerns the molecular and cellular events that give rise to the developing brain and the myriad ways in which the brain is modified by both positive and negative life experiences. Recurring themes are that (1) critical, new knowledge of behavioral development can be achieved by considering the neurobiological mechanisms that guide and influence child development, and (2) these neurobiological mechanisms are in turn influenced by behavior.
Article
There is a substantial body of literature related to the effects of a single session of exercise on cognitive performance. The premise underlying this research is that physiological changes in response to exercise have implications for cognitive function. This literature has been reviewed both narratively and meta-analytically and, although the research findings are mixed, researchers have generally concluded that there is a small positive effect. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to provide an updated comprehensive analysis of the extant literature on acute exercise and cognitive performance and to explore the effects of moderators that have implications for mechanisms of the effects. Searches of electronic databases and examinations of reference lists from relevant studies resulted in 79 studies meeting inclusion criteria. Consistent with past findings, analyses indicated that the overall effect was positive and small (g=0.097 n=1034). Positive and small effects were also found in all three acute exercise paradigms: during exercise (g=0.101; 95% confidence interval [CI]; 0.041-0.160), immediately following exercise (g=0.108; 95% CI; 0.069-0.147), and after a delay (g=0.103; 95% CI; 0.035-0.170). Examination of potential moderators indicated that exercise duration, exercise intensity, type of cognitive performance assessed, and participant fitness were significant moderators. In conclusion, the effects of acute exercise on cognitive performance are generally small; however, larger effects are possible for particular cognitive outcomes and when specific exercise parameters are used.
Article
The hypothesis that language plays a role in theory-of-mind (ToM) development is supported by a number of lines of evidence (e.g., H. Lohmann & M. Tomasello, 2003). The current study sought to further investigate the relations between maternal language input, memory for false sentential complements, cognitive flexibility, and the development of explicit false belief understanding in 91 English-speaking typically developing children (M age = 61.3 months) and 30 children with specific language impairment (M age = 63.0 months). Concurrent and longitudinal findings converge in supporting a model in which maternal language input predicts the child's memory for false complements, which predicts cognitive flexibility, which in turn predicts explicit false belief understanding.
Article
Little evidence exists about the prevalence of adequate levels of physical activity and of appropriate screen-based entertainment in preschool children. Previous studies have generally relied on small samples. This study investigates how much time preschool children spend being physically active and engaged in screen-based entertainment. The study also reports compliance with the recently released Australian recommendations for physical activity (≥3 h·d(-1)) and screen entertainment (≤1 h·d(-1)) and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education physical activity guidelines (≥2 h·d(-1)) and American Academy of Pediatrics screen-based entertainment recommendations (≤2 h·d(-1)) in a large sample of preschool children. Participants were 1004 Melbourne preschool children (mean age = 4.5 yr, range = 3-5 yr) and their families in the Healthy Active Preschool Years study. Physical activity data were collected by accelerometry during an 8-d period. Parents reported their child's television/video/DVD viewing, computer/Internet, and electronic game use during a typical week. A total of 703 (70%) had sufficient accelerometry data, and 935 children (93%) had useable data on time spent in screen-based entertainment. Children spent 16% (approximately 127 min·d(-1)) of their time being physically active. Boys and younger children were more active than were girls and older children, respectively. Children spent an average of 113 min·d(-1) in screen-based entertainment. Virtually no children (<1%) met both the Australian recommendations and 32% met both the National Association for Sport and Physical Education and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations. The majority of young children are not participating in adequate amounts of physical activity and in excessive amounts of screen-based entertainment. It is likely that physical activity may decline and that screen-based entertainment may increase with age. Compliance with recommendations may be further reduced. Strategies to promote physical activity and reduce screen-based entertainment in young children are required.
Article
Executive function refers to the cognitive processes necessary for goal-directed cognition and behavior, which develop across childhood and adolescence. Recent experimental research indicates that both acute and chronic aerobic exercise promote children's executive function. Furthermore, there is tentative evidence that not all forms of aerobic exercise benefit executive function equally: Cognitively-engaging exercise appears to have a stronger effect than non-engaging exercise on children's executive function. This review discusses this evidence as well as the mechanisms that may underlie the association between exercise and executive function. Research from a variety of disciplines is covered, including developmental psychology, kinesiology, cognitive neuroscience, and biopsychology. Finally, these experimental findings are placed within the larger context of known links between action and cognition in infancy and early childhood, and the clinical and practical implications of this research are discussed.
Article
Bilingual children have been shown to outperform monolingual children on tasks measuring executive functioning skills. This advantage is usually attributed to bilinguals' extensive practice in exercising selective attention and cognitive flexibility during language use because both languages are active when one of them is being used. We examined whether this advantage is observed in 24-month-olds who have had much less experience in language production. A battery of executive functioning tasks and the cognitive scale of the Bayley test were administered to 63 monolingual and bilingual children. Native bilingual children performed significantly better than monolingual children on the Stroop task, with no difference between groups on the other tasks, confirming the specificity of bilingual effects to conflict tasks reported in older children. These results demonstrate that bilingual advantages in executive control emerge at an age not previously shown.
Article
This review article examines theoretical and methodological issues in the construction of a developmental perspective on executive function (EF) in childhood and adolescence. Unlike most reviews of EF, which focus on preschoolers, this review focuses on studies that include large age ranges. It outlines the development of the foundational components of EF-inhibition, working memory, and shifting. Cognitive and neurophysiological assessments show that although EF emerges during the first few years of life, it continues to strengthen significantly throughout childhood and adolescence. The components vary somewhat in their developmental trajectories. The article relates the findings to long-standing issues of development (e.g., developmental sequences, trajectories, and processes) and suggests research needed for constructing a developmental framework encompassing early childhood through adolescence.
Article
Although the structure of executive function (EF) during adulthood is characterized by both unity and diversity, recent evidence suggests that preschool EF may be best described by a single factor. The latent structure of EF was examined in 228 3-year-olds using confirmatory factor analysis. Children completed a battery of executive tasks that differed in format and response requirements and in putative working memory and inhibitory control demands. Tasks appeared to be age appropriate, with adequate sensitivity across the range of performance and without floor or ceiling effects. Tests of the relative fit of several alternative models supported a single latent EF construct. Measurement invariance testing revealed less proficient EF in children at higher sociodemographic risk relative to those at lower risk and no differences between boys and girls. At 3years of age, when EF skills are emerging, EF appears to be a unitary, more domain-general process.
Article
In keeping with proposals emphasizing the role of early experience in infant brain development, this study investigated the prospective links between quality of parent-infant interactions and subsequent child executive functioning (EF), including working memory, impulse control, and set shifting. Maternal sensitivity, mind-mindedness and autonomy support were assessed when children were 12 to 15 months old (N = 80). Child EF was assessed at 18 and 26 months. All three parenting dimensions were found to relate to child EF. Autonomy support was the strongest predictor of EF at each age, independent of general cognitive ability and maternal education. These findings add to previous results on child stress-response systems in suggesting that parent-child relationships may play an important role in children's developing self-regulatory capacities.
Article
The goal was to quantify television viewing in day care settings and to investigate the characteristics of programs that predict viewing. A telephone survey of licensed child care programs in Michigan, Washington, Florida, and Massachusetts was performed. The frequency and quantity of television viewing for infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children were assessed. With the exception of infants, children in home-based child care programs were exposed to significantly more television on an average day than were children in center-based programs (infants: 0.2 vs 0 hours; toddlers: 1.6 vs 0.1 hours; preschool-aged children: 2.4 vs 0.4 hours). In a regression analysis of daily television time for preschool-aged children in child care, center-based programs were found to have an average of 1.84 fewer hours of television each day, controlling for the other covariates. Significant effect modification was found, in that the impact of home-based versus center-based child care programs differed somewhat depending on educational levels for staff members; having a 2- or 4-year college degree was associated with 1.41 fewer hours of television per day in home-based programs, but no impact of staff education on television use was observed in center-based programs. For many children, previous estimates of screen time significantly underestimated actual amounts. Pediatricians should council parents to minimize screen time in child care settings.
The chapters in this issue revisit the social origins of the development of executive function (EF) through both empirical examination of the contexts in which EF development occurs (in vivo), as well as its social antecedents and consequences. Importantly, they also point to new directions in studying the social foundations of neurodevelopment, novel methods that take the social context into account, and cultural influences on EF development.
Article
One of the basic functions of the cerebral cortex is the analysis and representation of relations among the components of sensory and motor patterns. It is proposed that the cortex applies two complementary strategies to cope with the combinatorial problem posed by the astronomical number of possible relations: (i) the analysis and representation of frequently occurring, behaviorally relevant relations by groups of cells with fixed but broadly tuned response properties; and (ii) the dynamic association of these cells into functionally coherent assemblies. Feedforward connections and reciprocal associative connections, respectively, are thought to underlie these two operations. The architectures of both types of connections are susceptible to experience-dependent modifications during development, but they become fixed in the adult. As development proceeds, feedforward connections also appear to lose much of their functional plasticity, whereas the synapses of the associative connections retain a high susceptibility to use-dependent modifications. The reduced plasticity of feedforward connections is probably responsible for the invariance of cognitive categories acquired early in development. The persistent adaptivity of reciprocal connections is a likely substrate for the ability to generate representations for new perceptual objects and motor patterns throughout life.
Article
This individual differences study examined the separability of three often postulated executive functions-mental set shifting ("Shifting"), information updating and monitoring ("Updating"), and inhibition of prepotent responses ("Inhibition")-and their roles in complex "frontal lobe" or "executive" tasks. One hundred thirty-seven college students performed a set of relatively simple experimental tasks that are considered to predominantly tap each target executive function as well as a set of frequently used executive tasks: the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), Tower of Hanoi (TOH), random number generation (RNG), operation span, and dual tasking. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the three target executive functions are moderately correlated with one another, but are clearly separable. Moreover, structural equation modeling suggested that the three functions contribute differentially to performance on complex executive tasks. Specifically, WCST performance was related most strongly to Shifting, TOH to Inhibition, RNG to Inhibition and Updating, and operation span to Updating. Dual task performance was not related to any of the three target functions. These results suggest that it is important to recognize both the unity and diversity of executive functions and that latent variable analysis is a useful approach to studying the organization and roles of executive functions.
Article
This review paper outlines the issues associated with the assessment of executive function (EF) in children and adolescents, and describes the developmental profile of executive processes across childhood. At the outset, EF is defined, and cognitive and behavioral impairments associated with executive dysfunction (EDF) are described. A developmental model of EF is proposed incorporating four discrete but inter-related executive domains (attentional control, cognitive flexibility, goal setting, and information processing) which operate in an integrative manner to enable "executive control". Characteristics that constitute traditional EF measures are discussed, as are the problems associated with test interpretation. The ecological validity of EF tests and neuropsychological assessment procedures are examined, and adjunct methods of measurement are presented to enable a more comprehensive and valid assessment of EF. Based on developmental and normative studies, the maturation of executive domains is mapped. Attentional control appears to emerge in infancy and develop rapidly in early childhood. In contrast, cognitive flexibility, goal setting, and information processing experience a critical period of development between 7 and 9 years of age, and are relatively mature by 12 years of age. A transitional period is thought to occur at the beginning of adolescence, and shortly after "executive control" is likely to emerge. In order to confirm our current understanding of EF development and further enhance our understanding of brain-behavior relationships, longitudinal studies incorporating structural and functional neuroimaging are required.