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The interdependence of inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility in self-regulated behavior and intellectual ability

Posted on:2007-06-19Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityCandidate:Schwartz, Thomas PFull Text:PDF
There is a rich literature examining the relationship between inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility as individual components of self-regulated behavior and intellectual ability. Traditionally, papers have focused on specific deficits in these executive functions, often with the goal of identifying clinical groups. There has been comparatively less attention, however, on the combined contribution of these executive functions in producing self-regulated behavior among non-clinical participants. Therefore, the current study sought to address the following research questions: (a) What is the relative contribution of inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility in self-regulated behavior? (b) Are all of the component parts of self-regulatory behavior equally contributory or is one or more parts more influential? and (c) What is the relationship between the component parts and intellectual functioning?; In order to answer these questions, 50 healthy children between the ages of 8 and 12 with no reported history of psychopathology or special education classifications were tested using measures of inhibition (D-KEFS Color-Word Interference Test), working memory (WCJ-III Numbers Reversed and Auditory Working Memory subtests), cognitive flexibility (D-KEFS Trail Making Test) and intellectual ability (WCJ-III Brief Intellectual Ability scale). Obtained scores were correlated with and regressed upon the parent form of the Achenbach Child Behavioral Check-List (CBCL/6-18). The results indicated that both inhibition and working memory correlated with only the ADHD Index of the CBCL, with the two constructs emerging stronger when combined than either examined independently. Working memory and cognitive flexibility correlated with all measured aspects of intellectual ability, with working memory correlating stronger for males but cognitive flexibility correlating equally as strong for males and females.; Overall, the results indicated consistently that working memory was a stronger predictor than inhibition and cognitive flexibility. The present findings might aid clinicians and educators by increasing awareness of the relationship between executive functions, self-regulated behavior, and intellectual ability. This work may also provide a specific direction for future research into the complementary and component elements of executive functioning. Extrapolation of these results, however, should be interpreted with caution until future analyses based upon a larger sample size and more objective assessment instruments are completed.
Keywords/Search Tags:Working memory, Cognitive flexibility, Inhibition, Intellectual ability, Self-regulated behavior
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