Browsing by Subject "Executive functions"

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  • Aunio, Pirjo; Korhonen, Johan; Ragpot, Lara; Törmänen, Minna; Henning, Elizabeth (2021)
    The aim of this study was to investigate whether early numeracy skills of South African first graders who are at-risk for mathematical learning difficulties can be improved with an intervention program. The participants were 267 children from 17 classrooms in the greater Johannesburg area. In this quasi-experimental small group intervention study (15 sessions over 5 weeks) the outcome measure was early numeracy skills. Based on pretest early numeracy scores, the children were divided into an intervention group (N = 40), a low performing control group (N = 32), and an average performing control group (N = 195). The main result was that the intervention group had improved more in numerical relational skills, compared to low-controls; this effect remained statistically significant after controlling for executive functions, language skills and kindergarten attendance, and was also observable in the delayed post-measurement. Executive functions, language skills and kindergarten attendance all predicted the level of early numeracy skills at the beginning of the intervention, but only executive functions explained individual differences in counting skills development from pre- to delayed posttest.
  • Teivaanmäki, Sini; Huhdanpää, Hanna; Kiuru, Noona; Aronen, Eeva T.; Närhi, Vesa; Klenberg, Liisa (2020)
    The aim of the present study was to investigate associations between internalizing and externalizing symptoms and deficits in executive functions (EF) as well as to examine the overall heterogeneity of EFs in a sample of preschool children attending a psychiatric clinic (n = 171). First, based on cut-off points signifying clinical levels of impairment on the parent-completed Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), children were assigned into groups of internalizing, externalizing, combined or mild symptoms and compared to a reference group (n = 667) with regard to day care teacher ratings of EFs on the Attention and Executive Function Rating Inventory-Preschool (ATTEX-P). Second, latent profile analysis (LPA) was employed to identify distinct subgroups of children representing different EF profiles with unique strengths and weaknesses in EFs. The first set of analyses indicated that all symptom groups had more difficulties in EFs than the reference group did, and the internalizing group had less inhibition-related problems than the other symptom groups did. Using LPA, five EF profiles were identified: average, weak average, attentional problems, inhibitory problems, and overall problems. The EF profiles were significantly associated with gender, maternal education level, and psychiatric symptom type. Overall, the findings suggest that the comparison of means of internalizing and externalizing groups mainly captures the fairly obvious differences in inhibition-related domains among young psychiatric outpatient children, whereas the person-oriented approach, based on individual differences, identifies heterogeneity related to attentional functions, planning, and initiating one's action. The variability in EF difficulties suggests that a comprehensive evaluation of a child's EF profile is important regardless of the type of psychiatric symptoms the child presents with.
  • Aunio, Pirjo; Korhonen, Johan; Ragpot, Lara; Törmänen, Minna; Mononen, Riikka; Henning, Elizabeth (2019)
    The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of cognitive skills (executive function), language factors (listening comprehension, English as a second language, ESL) and kindergarten attendance on early numeracy in a cross-sectional sample of South African children (N = 442) in the beginning of Grade 1. The mean age of children was 81.62 months (SD =5.40). Structural equation path models showed that kindergarten attendance predicted children’s early numeracy performance even when controlling for executive function and language skills. Listening comprehension skills predicted the early numeracy skills more strongly than did executive function skills. ESL was associated with weaker early numeracy performance.
  • Kallio, Eeva-Liisa; Hietanen, Marja; Kautiainen, Hannu; Pitkälä, Kaisu H. (2021)
    Effectiveness of a 12-week cognitive training (CT) programme for community-dwelling patients with dementia was evaluated on various cognitive functions (attention, memory, executive functions and reasoning) and psychological well-being (PWB). A single-blind randomized controlled trial was conducted in adult day care centres in Helsinki, Finland. Participants (N = 147) were older individuals with mild to moderate dementia living at home and attending day care (mean age 83 years, 72% female, 63% at mild stage of dementia). The intervention group (n= 76) received systematic CT for 45 min twice a week while the control group (n = 71) attended day care as usual. The cognitive and psychological outcomes were measured at baseline, and followed up at 3 and 9 months. No differences between the two groups in changes of any of the cognitive functions, or PWB over time were found. We observed a positive trend at 3 months in the change for PWB favouring the intervention group, but no significant interaction effect was found (p = .079;d = -0.31). Thus, systematic CT appears to have no effect on neuropsychological outcomes of cognitive functioning and PWB in older adults who already have dementia.
  • Ruotsalainen, Ilona; Gorbach, Tetiana; Perkola, Jaana; Renvall, Ville; Syväoja, Heidi J.; Tammelin, Tuija H.; Karvanen, Juha; Parviainen, Tiina (2020)
    Physical activity and exercise beneficially link to brain properties and cognitive functions in older adults, but the findings concerning adolescents remain tentative. During adolescence, the brain undergoes significant changes, which are especially pronounced in white matter. Studies provide contradictory evidence regarding the influence of physical activity or aerobic-exercise on executive functions in youth. Little is also known about the link between both fitness and physical activity with the brain’s white matter during puberty. We investigated the connection between aerobic fitness and physical activity with the white matter in 59 adolescents. We further determined whether white matter interacts with the connection of fitness or physical activity with core executive functions. Our results show that only the level of aerobic fitness, but not of physical activity relates to white matter. Furthermore, the white matter of the corpus callosum and the right superior corona radiata moderates the links of aerobic fitness and physical activity with working memory. Our results suggest that aerobic fitness and physical activity have an unequal contribution to the white matter properties in adolescents. We propose that the differences in white matter properties could underlie the variations in the relationship between either physical activity or aerobic fitness with working memory.
  • Hellstrand, Heidi; Korhonen, Johan; Räsänen, Pekka; Linnanmäki, Karin; Aunio, Pirjo (2020)
    This study investigated reliability and validity evidence regarding the Early Numeracy WA (EN-test) in a sample of 1139 Swedish-speaking children (587 girls) in kindergarten (n = 361), first grade (n = 321), and second grade (n = 457). Structural validity evidence was established through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), which showed that a four-factor model fit the data significantly better than a one-factor or two-factor model. The known-group and cross-cultural validity were established through multigroup CFAs, finding that the four-factor model fit the gender, age and language groups equally well. Internal consistency for the WA and sub-skills varied from good to excellent. The EN-test can be considered as an appropriate assessment to identify children at risk for mathematical learning difficulties.