Unity and Diversity of Children’s Executive Functions During Middle Childhood: Latent-Variable Analysis and Network Analysis
摘要: 作为人类的高级认知功能，执行功能是促进个体学业成功和身心健康发展的核心要素。然而当前相关研究对执行功能的衡量侧重单一任务，缺乏从整合视角考察其结构及稳定性。本文采用纵向设计，对756名三至四年级儿童（平均年龄9.25，女生51.85%）进行一年追踪调查，通过潜在变量分析和网络分析，探究童年中期儿童执行功能的结构及稳定性。结果显示：童年中期儿童的执行功能以抑制控制和认知灵活性/工作记忆共同因子（即I + W/C模型）的形式存在；6项执行功能任务被识别为一个稳定的成分；并且该期间执行功能的统一性（一般因子）和多样性（成分相关因子）相对稳定。上述发现强调了同时关注执行功能统一性和多样性的必要性，推进对儿童执行功能结构发展的深刻认识。
Abstract: As high-level cognitive processes, executive functions (EF) refer to a set of top-down neurocognitive processes served for conscious, goal-directed control of thought, action and emotion, which is crucial for childrens academic success and mental and physical health. It includes inhibitory control, working memory and cognitive flexibility. Although abundant related theories and studies existed, some limitations still remained. Firstly, EF are measured with a single task in previous studies, which are rarely incapable of decomposing different components of EF. They are lack to systematically investigate the unity and diversity of EF from an integrative view; Then, rare studies use longitudinal design to examine the stability of the unity and diversity of childrens executive functions during middle childhood. The present attempted to address these issues mentioned above.From the perspective of a unity/diversity framework of EF, combined with latent-variable analysis and network analysis, the present study followed 756 students from grade 3 to 4 (Mage = 9.25 years, 51.85% girls) to systematically and comprehensively explore the unity and diversity of EF during middle childhood. They were recruited to measure six tasks related with three main components of EF.The results showed that: The structure of childrens EF in middle childhood included inhibitory control and combined factor of working memory and cognitive reflection; These six tasks were organized into one stable components through at least age 10; The unity and diversity of EF met full metric invariance.These findings highlight the importance of understanding the unity and diversity of EF among middle childhood from a developmental perspective, and provide new sight on the measuring means of EF.