Development of executive functioning in school-age Tunisian children
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Research regarding executive functioning (EF) in children rarely focuses on populations in African or Middle-Eastern Arabic-speaking countries. The current study used a cross-sectional design to examine the developmental trajectories of school-age Tunisian children in three domains of executive control (inhibition of prepotent responses, cognitive flexibility, and working memory) as well as their mutual interactions and the effects of gender and parents? education level. Inhibitory processes, cognitive flexibility, and working memory were assessed using the Stroop test, a version of the Hayling test adapted for children, simple and alternating tasks of verbal fluency, and verbal and visuospatial span tasks (forward and backward spans). The study population included 120 7- to 12-year-old Tunisian children (60 girls, 60 boys) who were grouped and matched for age, gender, and parents? education level. The results revealed an overall effect of age on executive performance, whereas gender and parents? education level showed non-significant effects. In addition, executive indices were significantly associated with fluid intelligence level. Partial correlation analyses (controlled for age) found significant links between indices that assessed the same executive process, except for inhibitory processes; the temporal indices for inhibitory processes showed relative independence. The correlations between indices that assessed distinct executive processes were weaker (but significant). Overall, the results suggest that executive components in school-age Tunisian children operate according to relatively homogeneous developmental trajectories, marked by peaks of maturity that differ according to the assessed index. A transcultural approach to EF is discussed in terms of the unity and diversity of its components.
- Social Sciences [49 items ]