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Cognition. 2014 Oct;133(1):201-10. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2014.06.012. Epub 2014 Jul 18.

Working memory updating and the development of rule-guided behavior.

Author information

1
Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, & Psychological Sciences, Brown University, United States. Electronic address: Dima_Amso@Brown.edu.
2
Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, & Psychological Sciences, Brown University, United States.

Abstract

The transition from middle childhood into adolescence is marked by both increasing independence and also extensive change in the daily requirements of familial demands, social pressures, and academic achievement. To manage this increased complexity, children must develop the ability to use abstract rules that guide the choice of behavior across a range of circumstances. Here, we tested children through adults in a task that requires increasing levels of rule abstraction, while separately manipulating competition among alternatives in working memory. We found that age-related differences in rule-guided behavior can be explained in terms of improvement in rule abstraction, which we suggest involves a working memory updating mechanism. Furthermore, family socioeconomic status (SES) predicted change in rule-guided behavior, such that higher SES predicted better performance with development. We discuss these results within a working memory gating framework for abstract rule-guided behavior.

KEYWORDS:

Development; Executive functions; Policy abstraction; Rule-guided behavior; Socioeconomic status; Working memory

PMID:
25044248
PMCID:
PMC4134424
DOI:
10.1016/j.cognition.2014.06.012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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