Send to

Choose Destination
Child Dev. 1990 Jun;61(3):653-63.

A global developmental trend in cognitive processing speed.

Author information

Washington University, Department of Psychology, St. Louis, MO 63130-4899.


Children respond more slowly than young adults on a variety of information-processing tasks. The global trend hypothesis posits that processing speed changes as a function of age, and that all component processes change at the same rate. A unique prediction of this hypothesis is that the overall response latencies of children of a particular age should be predictable from the latencies of young adults performing the same tasks--without regard to the specific componential makeup of the task. The current effort tested this prediction by examining the performance of 4 age groups (10-, 12-, 15-, and 19-year-olds) on 4 different tasks (choice reaction time, letter matching, mental rotation, and abstract matching). An analysis that simultaneously examined performance on all 4 tasks provided strong support for the global trend hypothesis. By plotting each child group's performance on all 4 tasks as a function of the young adult group's performance in the corresponding task conditions, precise linear functions were revealed: 10-year-olds were approximately 1.8 times slower than young adults on all tasks, and 12-year-olds were approximately 1.5 times slower, whereas 15-year-olds appeared to process information as fast as young adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center