Dimensional Label Learning Predicts the Developmental Status of Executive Function

AbstractThe Dimensional Change Card Sort Task (DCCS) is a measure of the developmental status of early childhood EF. In this task, children use verbal rules regarding the features and dimensions of objects to sort cards by shape or color. A recent dynamic neural field model explains development in the DCCS task based on the strength of associations between labels and visual features. In this project, we explored the role of dimensional label learning (DLL) in the development of flexibility in the DCCS task. Three- and 4-year-olds were given DLL tasks along with the DCCS task. We measured hemodynamic activity as children performed these tasks using fNIRS. Results showed that color label production produced activation throughout frontal and left temporal areas. Importantly, hemodynamic activation during the DLL tasks predicted performance in the DCCS. These results suggest that the neural systems involved in DLL influences children’s ability to flexibly switch between rules.

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