Development of executive function and social cognition and its relation with prejudice toward minority groups
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AuthorHoyo Ramiro, Ángela Victoria
Universidad de Granada
DepartamentoUniversidad de Granada.; Universidad de Granada. Programa de Doctorado en Psicología
Executive functionSocial cognitionPrejudicesMinority groups
Hoyo Ramiro, Ángela Victoria. Development of executive function and social cognition and its relation with prejudice toward minority groups. Granada: Universidad de Granada, 2020. [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/64583]
SponsorshipTesis Univ. Granada.
Thus far, little research has examined dynamics of conflict monitoring and cognitive flexibility processes if both cognitive functions are simultaneously demanded by a task. Further evidence on electrophysiological activity underlying performance in tasks that combine demands on diverse cognitive control functions is needed specially in middle childhood, given the increasing complexity of cognitive functions of inhibition and flexibility in this developmental stage. The present study intended to provide further evidence on this by investigating electrophysiological brain activity underlying task-set maintenance and adjustment demands in middle childhood in association with children performance. For this purpose, we measured electroencephalographic (EEG) activity and examined N2 and P3 ERPs as indices of the involvement of inhibition and flexibility during performance of a version of the Dots task in a group of 8-to-9-year-old children. In accordance with the conflict monitoring, response inhibition and cognitive flexibility demands, we expected to find poorer performance (i.e., decreased accuracy and increased reaction time) and increased N2 (i.e., more negative) and P3 (i.e., more positive) amplitudes when comparing: a) incongruent and congruent trials, b) mixed and simple blocks, and c) switch and repeat trials within the mixed block. As stated in the Introduction, the global context where single trials are presented influences performance (Davidson et al., 2006). In line with this, as the global context of the mixed block poses inhibition and flexibility demands, participants are expected to show undermined performance and increased N2 and P3 amplitudes even in less conflicting (i.e., congruent) trials. In addition to this, and in line with findings of Vu and Proctor (2004) concerning the elimination of the Simon effect in a block that intermixes spatial compatible and spatial incompatible trials, we hypothesized that the inhibition-related congruency effect at both behavioral (i.e., the greater difficulty to perform incongruent / spatialincompatible than congruent / spatial-compatible trials) and electrophysiological levels (i.e., the greater N2 and P3 amplitudes to spatial-incompatible than to spatial-compatible trials) would be attenuated within the mixed block. Finally, we explored the association between behavioral indices of conflict resolution and cognitive flexibility and mean amplitudes in N2 and P3 locked to correct targets. As already exposed, there is mixed evidence concerning N2. Here, we argue that N2 amplitude in childhood indexes the extent to which children monitor performance and detect the need of implementing cognitive control for behavioral adjustment (Best & Miller, 2010). Moreover, greater (i.e., more negative) N2 amplitudes in childhood do not necessarily address impaired performance but rather the relative immaturity of conflict monitoring mechanism in middle childhood (Casey et al., 1997; Durston et al., 2006). Then, we expected that more negative N2 amplitudes would associate with better accuracy performance. Concerning P3, in line with the literature pointing that more positive P3 amplitudes link to better processing and allocation of task-relevant cognitive resources in childhood (e.g., Brydges et al., 2014), more positive P3 amplitudes were expected to associate with greater accuracy. The link of N2 and P3 with reaction time was explored.