The Longitudinal Project

School age:

The present study* aims  to investigate the relationships between different aspects of cognitive development in school-age children (6-to-10-year-olds) characterized by significant progress at a number of levels. The research implies a series of psychological tasks for the children and a series of questionnaires for the parents and teachers.

The children are tested individually, in two distinct sessions, in a classrom at their school. Each session lasts aproximately one hour. The tasks are presented as games to the children, some being computerized and some are not. For the computer trials, the child is placed in front of a screen on which different stimuli  are presented; he or she responds either by pressing a key or by touching the screen (a touchscreen display is used).

In order to measure the child’s cognitive abilities, we used the following tasks:

      • The cognitive reasoning component from WISC IV (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children; Wechsler, 2003), which measures cognitive reasoning abilities.

      • The understanding component from WISC IV (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children; Wechsler, 2003), which measures verbal understanding abilities.

      • Forward Digit Span for short-term memory.

      • Backward Digit Span for working memory.

      • The Non-Word Recognition task (after the Word Recognition task from the Automated Working Memory Assessment, AWMA, Alloway, 2007) for short-term memory.

      • The Inhibition task from NEPSY (Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment; Korkman, Kirk, & Kemp, 1998), which measures response inhibition abilities.

      • The Shifting task from NEPSY (Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment; Korkman, Kirk, & Kemp, 1998), which measures set shifting abilities.

      • The Motor Screening test (MOT) from CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery), which is an accommodation task that screens for difficulties with vision, movement and understanding.

      • The Simple Reaction Time test (SRT) from CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery), which measures reaction time.

      • Pattern Recognition Memory (PRM) from CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery), which measures pattern recognition abilities.

      • Spatial Working Memory (SWM) from CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery), which measures spatial working memory.

      • Test of Emotion Comprehension (TEC; Pons & Harris, 2000) for measuring emotion understanding abilities.

For the evaluation of affective and behavioral problems, we used the following questionnaires, which were filled in by the parents:

      • BASC (Behavior Assessment System for Children –second version; Reynolds & Kamphaus 2004), for affective problems.

      • RCADS-P (Revised Child anxiety and Depression Scale – Parent version; Chorpita et al., 2000), for behavioral problems.

 *This is a follow up of Laura Visu-Petra, Oana Ciornei & Ovidiu Jurje (submitted for publication). “Can you keep a secret? A preliminary study introducing the RT-based Concealed Information test to young children”

Preschool:

Cognitive and socio-emotional development in preschoolers

     The present study* investigates the relationship between cognitive development (attentional flexibility, memory, inhibition), the ability to hide certain pieces of information and emotional development (internalizing and externalizing problems).

     The psychological tasks are applied in 3 distinct stages (longitudinal study) at aproximately 6 months appart in the Developmental Psychology Laboratory and the results are compared with the ones obtained in the previous research.

The applied tasks are meant to monitor:

      • the understanding and recognition of ones own emotions and the emotions of others; also, the ability to surpass his or her own perspecive and adopt the perspectives of other people (theory of mind).
      • the ability to hide certain pieces of information in favor of a social convenience – task inspired from the temptation resistance paradigm. 
      • the ability to inhibit automatic reactions, cognitive control through attentional flexibility and the ability to inhibit reactions  to certain stimuli.
      • working memory, the ability to retain series of words and repeat them in the same order they were presented.

*Visu-Petra, L., Jurje, O., & Fizeșan, C. (2014). Deceptive behavior in young children confronted with physical evidence of their transgressions: Links with executive functioning and internalizing or externalizing symptoms. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 140, 599-604. Full text here.