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Sociocultural and pubertal effects on the development of unity and diversity of executive functions

Grant number: 19/19709-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2020
Effective date (End): September 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Physiological Psychology
Principal Investigator:Sabine Pompéia
Grantee:Isis Angelica Segura
Home Institution: Escola Paulista de Medicina (EPM). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus São Paulo. São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The term Executive Functions (EFs) encompasses several cognitive skills associated with the concept of controlled attention that are responsible for regulating cognition, thoughts and behavior and are associated with mental and physical health outcomes. EFs comprise 3 distinguishable domains (Inhibition, Shifting and Updating), which characterize the diversity of EFs, that, however, share variance (unity of EFs). Controversy exists regarding the course of the development of EFs during adolescence. The factors that may explain different findings in the literature are: 1) the diversity of socio-cultural characteristics, since there is a dearth of studies that compared the performance in populations of different cultures; 2) the lack of control of pubertal development, which, unlike age, governs the maturation of brain regions involved in the performance of EFs; 3) the use of unrepresentative tests of executive domains or of "impure" variables, which involve various cognitive skills in addition to EFs. The aim of this study is to investigate the development of EFs during early adolescence taking into account not only age, but also pubertal development, in samples from two countries, Brazil and Iran. The study will be cross-sectional and include 300 participants in both countries aged 9-15 years with varying socioeconomic backgrounds. Two representative tests of each executive domain will be applied to generate latent variables (purer measures of EFs) to be analyzed with structural equation modeling. The effects of age, puberty, gender, socioeconomic status and culture on the development of EFs will be determined. The results may shed light on the role of sociocultural and biological factors in the development of EFs. (AU)