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Cognitive control in infancy: Attentional predictors using a tablet-based measure.

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Macrae, Emma 
Milosavljevic, Bosiljka  ORCID logo
Mason, Luke 
Amadó, Marta Perapoch 


Cognitive control is a predictor of later-life outcomes and may underpin higher order executive processes. The present study examines the development of early cognitive control during the first 24-month. We evaluated a tablet-based assessment of cognitive control among infants aged 18- and 24-month. We also examined concurrent and longitudinal associations between attentional disengagement, general cognitive skills and cognitive control. Participants (N = 60, 30 female) completed the tablet-task at 18- and 24-month of age. Attentional disengagement and general cognitive development were assessed at 5-, 8-, 12-, 18- and 24-month using an eye-tracking measure and the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL), respectively. The cognitive control task demonstrated good internal consistency, sensitivity to age-related change in performance and stable individual differences. No associations were found between infant cognitive control and MSEL scores longitudinally or concurrently. The eye-tracking task revealed that slower attentional disengagement at 8-month, but faster disengagement at 18-month, predicted higher cognitive control scores at 24-month. This task may represent a useful tool for measuring emergent cognitive control. The multifaceted relationship between attention and infant cognitive control suggests that the rapid development of the attentional system in infancy results in distinct attentional skills, at different ages, being relevant for cognitive control development.


Publication status: Published


Humans, Female, Attention, Male, Infant, Cognition, Child Development, Eye-Tracking Technology, Child, Preschool, Computers, Handheld, Longitudinal Studies

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MRC (MR/S018425/1)
ESRC (ES/V016601/1)
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