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Dev Sci. 2012 Jan;15(1):12-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01093.x. Epub 2011 Sep 29.

Social factors in the development of early executive functioning: a closer look at the caregiving environment.

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Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, P.O. Box 6128 Downtown Station, Montreal, QC, H3C 3J7, Canada.


This study investigated prospective links between quality of the early caregiving environment and children's subsequent executive functioning (EF). Sixty-two families were met on five occasions, allowing for assessment of maternal interactive behavior, paternal interactive behavior, and child attachment security between 1 and 2 years of age, and child EF at 2 and 3 years. The results suggested that composite scores of parental behavior and child attachment were related to child performance on EF tasks entailing strong working memory and cognitive flexibility components (conflict-EF). In particular, child attachment security was related to conflict-EF performance at 3 years above and beyond what was explained by a combination of all other social antecedents of child EF identified thus far: child verbal ability and prior EF, family SES, and parenting behavior. Attachment security may thus play a meaningful role in young children's development of executive control.

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