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Volume 6 Issue 5 (November 2003), Pages 449-603

Development of executive attention in preschool children (pages 498-504)


The development of self‐regulatory systems during the preschool years is accompanied by a dramatic increase in the ability to inhibit actions based on the directions of others. Several tasks have shown evidence of changes in self‐regulation during the fourth year of life. The current cross‐sectional study used a Simple Simon task, in which 33 3‐ to 4‐year‐old children were asked to respond to the command of one large toy animal but not to the command of another. Three important aspects of self‐regulation were examined: the ability to inhibit action in the face of conflict, error detection/correction and the use of verbal and physical control strategies. The ability to inhibit a response in this task increased from 22% to 90% between 36 and 48 months of age. Post error slowing of Reaction Time (RT) indicative of error detection emerged at about the same age as successful inhibition. Physical rather than verbal self‐regulation strategies were spontaneously employed by children to aid in the process of inhibition.

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