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J Child Neurol. 2009 Apr;24(4):410-5. doi: 10.1177/0883073808324533.

Early working memory in children born with extremely low birth weight: assessed by object permanence.

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Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, University of New Mexico Children's Hospital, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.


Object permanence is considered the earliest method for assessing working memory. Factors affecting object permanence performance in a sample of two hundred and thirty-three 18- to 22-month olds born with extremely low birth weight were examined. It was hypothesized that object permanence would be directly related to emotional and attention regulation, that children with lower birth weight and higher illness severity would have more difficulty on the object permanence task, and that no ethnic/racial differences would be found, as this is considered a culturally unbiased task. Attainment of object permanence had a significant positive association with emotional and attention regulation, even after controlling the medical severity and socioeconomic factors. More girls than boys passed the object permanence items. There was no ethnic/racial difference on object permanence. Our findings indicate that object permanence may be a culturally fair way of assessing development, and emotional and attention regulation are potential avenues of intervention for such skill.

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