DIMENSIONS OF ATTENTION AND EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING IN 5-TO 12-YEARS-OLD CHILDREN: NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT WITH THE NEPSY BATTERY
EF represents an umbrella-type concept for the complex set of cognitive processes that underlies the coordination of goal-directed responses to novel or complex situations. Developmental studies using standard neuropsychological tasks have shown that EF has a protracted developmental course, beginning in early childhood and continuing into adolescence. Our study aims to investigate the developmental sequence of attention and executive functions using normative data from a subsample (N = 485) of 5-to-12-years-old children evaluated during the standardization process of ï¿½NEPSY: A developmental neuropsychological assessmentï¿½ (Korkman, Kirk, & Kemp, 1998) on the Romanian population. Eight measures (Tower, Auditory Attention, Auditory Response Set, Visual Attention, Verbal Fluency, Design Fluency, Statue, Knock and Tap) were selected for the analysis, based on a rigorous task analysis process. The results suggest a differential maturational timetable, with basic inhibitory responses and visual search skills maturing early on, followed by response planning, focused attention, and finally, by fluency measures. The measures clustered into two distinct factors; based on their commonalities, we named them 1) Task-set selection (Tower, Verbal and Design Fluency, Auditory Attention and Response Set) and 2) Inhibition (Knock and Tap, Statue, Auditory Attention and Response Set). Three possible explanatory frameworks are provided for this factorial structure: a linguistic account, a latent variable approach and a maturational perspective.
KEYWORDS: executive functions, attention, NEPSY, exploratory factor analysis.