De ontwikkeling van de executieve functies bij jongens en meisjes in de leeftijd van 6 - 7 jaar: inhibitie, shifting, updating
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Background: Executive functions are present in very young children and develop at different rates and in different ways into adolescence. Few studies have examined sex differences in that development. Aim: This study examined sex differences and developmental change of 6 and 7 year-olds in three frequently postulated executive components, inhibition, shifting and updating during 6 months. Method: Selected are 218 Dutch children from first grade from 10 different primary schools in the Netherlands. All were tested on the same computerized battery, consisting of two inhibition tasks (Animalstroop and Simontask), two shifting tasks (Animal shifting and Sortingtask) and two updating tasks (Keep track and Odd one out). Results: Sex differences were found for the inhibition and shifting dimensions at the start of first grade as well as at the end. Girls performed better than boys in inhibition starting first grade, but boys outperformed girls on shifting both at the start and at the end. There were no sex differences found in updating performance, but there were significant developmental changes found in updating for boys and girls. Also, boys showed significant development in shifting, girls did not. And surprisingly, significant decline in inhibition was found for both boys and girls. In the development of shifting and updating and decline of inhibition, no sex differences were found on the various tasks. Conclusions: Two effects played a role in this study: children became faster and more accurate. How these effects worked against each other on the reaction times of the children varied throughout the various tasks. Results of this study can help teachers to learn more about how executive functions effect classroom behavior of the children.