Subscribe: Developmental Psychology - Vol 44, Iss 2
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Developmental Psychology - Vol 52, Iss 9

Developmental Psychology publishes articles that advance knowledge and theory about human development across the life span.

Last Build Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 23:00:06 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2016 American Psychological Association

Changes in frontal EEG coherence across infancy predict cognitive abilities at age 3: The mediating role of attentional control.


Theoretical perspectives of cognitive development have maintained that functional integration of the prefrontal cortex across infancy underlies the emergence of attentional control and higher cognitive abilities in early childhood. To investigate these proposed relations, we tested whether functional integration of prefrontal regions across the second half of the first year predicted observed cognitive performance in early childhood 1 year prior indirectly through observed attentional control (N = 300). Results indicated that greater change in left—but not right—frontal EEG coherence between 5 and 10 months was positively associated with attentional control, cognitive flexibility, receptive language, and behavioral inhibitory control. Specifically, a larger increase in coherence between left frontal regions was positively associated with accuracy on a visual search task at Age 2, and visual search accuracy was positively associated with receptive vocabulary, performance on a set-shifting task (DCCS), and delay of gratification at Age 3. Finally, the indirect effects from the change in left frontal EEG coherence to 3-year cognitive flexibility, receptive language, and behavioral inhibitory control were significant, suggesting that internally controlled attention is a mechanism through which early neural maturation influences children’s cognitive development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Generics license 30-month-olds’ inferences about the atypical properties of novel kinds.


We examined whether the distinction between generic and nongeneric language provides toddlers with a rapid and efficient means to learn about kinds. In Experiment 1, we examined 30-month-olds’ willingness to extend atypical properties to members of an unfamiliar category when the properties were introduced in 1 of 3 ways: (a) using a generic noun phrase (“Blicks drink ketchup”); (b) using a nongeneric noun phrase (“These blicks drink ketchup”); and (c) using an attentional phrase (“Look at this”). Hearing a generic noun phrase boosted toddlers’ extension of properties to both the model exemplars and to novel members of the same category, relative to when a property had been introduced with a nongeneric noun phrase or an attentional phrase. In Experiment 2, properties were introduced with a generic noun phrase, and toddlers extended novel properties to members of the same-category, but not to an out-of-category object. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that generics highlight the stability of a feature and foster generalization of the property to novel within-category exemplars. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Emotional interactions in European American mother–infant firstborn and secondborn dyads: A within-family study.


The developmental science literature is riven with respect to (a) parental similar versus different treatment of siblings and (b) sibling similarities and differences. Most methodologies in the field are flawed or confounded. To address these issues, this study employed a within-family longitudinal design to examine developmental processes of continuity and stability in emotional interactions in mothers with their firstborn and secondborn 5-month-old infants (ns = 61 mothers and 122 infants). As independently rated by the Emotional Availability Scales, mothers’ observed and coded behavioral expressions of sensitivity, structuring, nonintrusiveness, and nonhostility were consistent in group mean levels between firstborns and secondborns and (largely) between daughters and sons. Neither firstborns and secondborns, nor girls and boys, differed in their responsiveness or involvement of mother. However, mothers’ emotional interactions with their firstborn and secondborn children were uncorrelated, as were firstborn and secondborn infants’ interactions with their mother. These group-mean consistencies and individual-differences inconsistencies in emotional interactions are discussed in relation to the shared and nonshared lives of siblings in the same family. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Age-related differences in emotion regulation strategies: Examining the role of contextual factors.


Increasing age is characterized by greater positive affective states. However, there is mixed evidence on the implementation of emotion regulation strategies across the life span. To clarify the discrepancies in the literature, we examined the modulating influence of contextual factors in understanding emotion regulation strategy use in older and young adults. Forty-eight older adults and forty-nine young adults completed a retrospective survey inquiring about the use of emotion regulation strategies in emotion-eliciting situations experienced over the preceding 2 weeks. We used factor analysis to establish clusters of emotion regulation strategies, resulting in cognitive strategies, acceptance, and maladaptive strategies. Overall, we found context-dependent age-related differences in emotion regulation strategy use. Specifically, older adults reported greater use of acceptance than young adults in situations of moderate intensity and in situations that evoke anxiety and sadness. In addition, older adults reported using maladaptive strategies to a lesser extent in high- and moderate-intensity situations and in situations that elicit anxiety and sadness when compared with young adults. There were no age-related differences in the use of cognitive strategies across contexts. Older adults, compared to young adults, reported less use of maladaptive strategies and greater use of acceptance than young adults, which suggests that the enhanced emotional functioning observed later in life may be due to a shift in strategy implementation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The role of age, working memory, and response inhibition in deviance distraction: A cross-sectional study.


Sounds deviating from an otherwise repeated or structured sequence capture attention and affect performance in an ongoing visual task negatively, testament to the balance between selective attention and change detection. Although deviance distraction has been the object of much research, its modulation across the life span has been more scarcely addressed. Recent findings suggest possible connections with working memory and response inhibition. In this study we measured the performance of children and young and older adults in a cross-modal oddball task (deviance distraction), a working memory task (working memory capacity), and a response inhibition task (ability to voluntarily inhibit an already planned action) with the aim to establish the contribution of the latter 2 to the first. Older adults exhibited significantly more deviance distraction than children and young adults (who did not differ from each other). Working memory capacity mediated deviance distraction in children and older adults (though in opposite directions) but not in young adults. Response inhibition capacities did not mediate deviance distraction in any of the age groups. Altogether the results suggest that although the increase in deviance distraction observed in old age may partly reflect the relative impairment of working memory mechanisms, there is no straightforward and stable relation between working memory capacity and deviance distraction across the life span. Furthermore, our results indicate that deviance distraction is unlikely to reflect the temporary inhibition of responses. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Child–child similarity on attachment and temperament as predictors of positive interaction during acquaintanceship at age 3.


Child–child similarity on attachment and temperament were examined, in turn, as predictors of interaction quality between previously unacquainted children. At 33 months, child–mother attachment security was assessed, and parents reported on child temperament. At 39 months, 114 children were randomly paired into 57 same-sex dyads and observed during 3 laboratory visits over a 1-month period. Positive interaction (composed of ratings of dyadic coordination, social play complexity, and shared positive affect) was assessed from recordings of play sessions at each visit. Multilevel models revealed that child–child similarity on (a) attachment security predicted more rapid increases in positive interaction across the 3 visits for dyads averaging high security, (b) temperamental pleasure predicted more positive interaction, on average, for dyads averaging moderate to high pleasure, and (c) temperamental anger and fearfulness yielded equivocal results. Developmental and methodological implications of investigating child–child similarity on attachment and temperament as a window into the acquaintanceship process among young children are considered. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Maternal scaffolding and home stimulation: Key mediators of early intervention effects on children’s cognitive development.


This study contributes to the understanding of how early parenting interventions implemented in low- and middle-income countries during the first 2 years of children’s lives are sustained longitudinally to promote cognitive skills in preschoolers. We employed path analytic procedures to examine 2 family processes—the quality of home stimulation and maternal scaffolding behaviors—as underlying mechanisms through which a responsive stimulation intervention uniquely predicted children’s verbal intelligence, performance intelligence, and executive functioning. The sample included 1,302 highly disadvantaged children and their mothers living in rural Pakistan, who from birth participated in a 2-year, community-based, cluster-randomized, controlled trial designed to promote sensitive and responsive caregiving. Family processes were assessed at 2 developmental time points using parent reports, ratings of home environments, and observed parent–child interactions. Cognitive skills at age 4 were assessed using standardized tests. Controlling for socioeconomic risk (e.g., wealth, maternal education, food insecurity) and individual factors (e.g., gender, growth status), the quality of current home stimulation as well as both earlier and concurrent measures of maternal scaffolding independently mediated the intervention effects on cognitive skills at age 4. In addition, the intervention had a significant direct effect on executive functioning and performance intelligence over and above significant family processes and other covariates. We highlight implications for future program design and evaluation studies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Social engagement and adaptive functioning during early childhood: Identifying and distinguishing among subgroups differing with regard to social engagement.


This study tested the hypothesis that social engagement (SE) with peers is a fundamental aspect of social competence during early childhood. Relations between SE and a set of previously validated social competence indicators, as well as additional variables derived from observation and sociometric interviews were assessed using both variable-centered and person-centered approaches (N = 1453, 696 girls) in 4 samples (3 U.S.A., 1 Portuguese). Directly observed SE was positively associated with broad-band measures of socially competent behavior, peer acceptance, being a target of peers’ attention, and also with broad-band personality dimensions. Using individual Q-items significantly associated with SE in 3 of our 4 samples, a hierarchical cluster analysis yielded a 5-cluster solution that grouped cases efficiently. Tests on relations between cluster membership and the set of social competence and other variables revealed significant main effects of cluster membership in the full sample and within each individual sample, separately. With the exception of tests for peer negative preference, children in the lowest SE cluster also had significantly lower overall social competence, personality functioning scores than did children in higher SE clusters. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

A cross-cultural comparison of children’s imitative flexibility.


Recent research with Western populations has demonstrated that children use imitation flexibly to engage in both instrumental and conventional learning. Evidence for children’s imitative flexibility in non-Western populations is limited, however, and has only assessed imitation of instrumental tasks. This study (N = 142, 6- to 8-year-olds) demonstrates both cultural continuity and cultural variation in imitative flexibility. Children engage in higher imitative fidelity for conventional tasks than for instrumental tasks in both an industrialized, Western culture (United States), and a subsistence-based, non-Western culture (Vanuatu). Children in Vanuatu engage in higher imitative fidelity of instrumental tasks than in the United States, a potential consequence of cultural variation in child socialization for conformity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The association of ADHD symptoms and reading acquisition during elementary school years.


The present longitudinal study aimed to investigate the influence of ADHD symptoms on reading development in elementary schoolchildren. To this end, repeated assessments of ADHD symptoms (teacher ratings of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity) and reading achievement (standardized tests of decoding speed and text comprehension) were examined in a sample comprising 2,014 elementary schoolchildren at the end of Grades 1, 2, 3, respectively, and in the middle of Grade 4. Latent change score models revealed that the level of ADHD symptoms was associated with lower levels and less growth in decoding speed and text comprehension. Furthermore, individual differences in changes in ADHD symptoms and reading performance were negatively associated. Together, these results indicate commonalities in the development of ADHD symptomatology and reading achievement throughout elementary school. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Fadeout in an early mathematics intervention: Constraining content or preexisting differences?


A robust finding across research on early childhood educational interventions is that the treatment effect diminishes over time, with children not receiving the intervention eventually catching up to children who did. One popular explanation for fadeout of early mathematics interventions is that elementary school teachers may not teach the kind of advanced content that children are prepared for after receiving the intervention, so lower-achieving children in the control groups of early mathematics interventions catch up to the higher-achieving children in the treatment groups. An alternative explanation is that persistent individual differences in children’s long-term mathematical development result more from relatively stable preexisting differences in their skills and environments than from the direct effects of previous knowledge on later knowledge. We tested these 2 hypotheses using data from an effective preschool mathematics intervention previously known to show a diminishing treatment effect over time. We compared the intervention group to a matched subset of the control group with a similar mean and variance of scores at the end of treatment. We then tested the relative contributions of factors that similarly constrain learning in children from treatment and control groups with the same level of posttreatment achievement and preexisting differences between these 2 groups to the fadeout of the treatment effect over time. We found approximately 72% of the fadeout effect to be attributable to preexisting differences between children in treatment and control groups with the same level of achievement at posttest. These differences were fully statistically attenuated by children’s prior academic achievement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The development of adaptive decision making: Recognition-based inference in children and adolescents.


Judgments about objects in the world are often based on probabilistic information (or cues). A frugal judgment strategy that utilizes memory (i.e., the ability to discriminate between known and unknown objects) as a cue for inference is the recognition heuristic (RH). The usefulness of the RH depends on the structure of the environment, particularly the predictive power (validity) of recognition. Little is known about developmental differences in use of the RH. In this study, the authors examined (a) to what extent children and adolescents recruit the RH when making judgments, and (b) around what age adaptive use of the RH emerges. Primary schoolchildren (M = 9 years), younger adolescents (M = 12 years), and older adolescents (M = 17 years) made comparative judgments in task environments with either high or low recognition validity. Reliance on the RH was measured with a hierarchical multinomial model. Results indicated that primary schoolchildren already made systematic use of the RH. However, only older adolescents adaptively adjusted their strategy use between environments and were better able to discriminate between situations in which the RH led to correct versus incorrect inferences. These findings suggest that the use of simple heuristics does not progress unidirectionally across development but strongly depends on the task environment, in line with the perspective of ecological rationality. Moreover, adaptive heuristic inference seems to require experience and a developed base of domain knowledge. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Age and gender differences in ability emotional intelligence in adults: A cross-sectional study.


The goal of the current investigation was to analyze ability emotional intelligence (EI) in a large cross-sectional sample of Spanish adults (N = 12,198; males, 56.56%) aged from 17 to 76 years (M = 37.71, SD = 12.66). Using the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), which measures ability EI according to the 4 branches of the Mayer and Salovey EI model. The authors examined effects of gender on ability EI, as well as the linear and quadratic effects of age. Results suggest that gender affects the total ability EI score as well as scores on the 4 EI branches. Ability EI was greater in women than men. Ability EI varied with age according to an inverted-U curve: Younger and older adults scored lower on ability EI than middle-aged adults, except for the branch of understanding emotions. These findings strongly support the idea that both gender and age significantly influence ability EI during aging. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)