Executive function as social interaction

Lewis, C and Shimmon, K and Solis-Trapala, I and Warburton, K and Harrison, A and Diggle, P and Towse, J (2009) Executive function as social interaction. In: Lifespan Development of Executive Control, 7 - 8 May 2009, University of Saarland, Saarbrücken, Germany. (Unpublished)

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While increasingly taken to refer to the anatomy and physiology of brain processes, the cognitive skills identified under the banner of executive function were originally explored in terms of how they are guided by, and guide, human social conduct (Vygotsky, 1978). I will briefly trace the origins of research on executive function to show that the link with social interaction has a long history, which we are apt to neglect. I will then attempt to test the claim that young children’s executive skills are mediated by social interaction by describing three lines of investigation in which we have recently conducted in part to demonstrate this. The first two consider the dynamics of task performance. When conducting tasks in which they have to follow two commands children show variability in using a first instruction and switching and these skills. Their performance in each skill relates to other well-tested tasks of set shifting or inhibition. Secondly, when carrying out a battery of typical executive tests there is carry-over from one test to another, even when administered a week apart. These findings remind us that executive processes are dynamic and the third area of research suggests that these are strongly influenced by social interactions: children’s performance on standard executive tasks is influenced by simple manipulations of the experimenter-child conversation before a test is administered. I suggest that the burgeoning research trend into executive skills should pay more attention to the tradition exploring the role of social interaction in their development.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Subjects: 5. Quantitative Data Handling and Data Analysis > 5.6 Multilevel Modelling
Depositing User: L-W-S user
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2011 07:09
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2021 13:52
URI: https://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/id/eprint/1279

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