Research Project 4
Social Cognition and Executive Functioning in Typically Developing Adolescent Boys
Darlene Walker, PhD, Clinical Psychologist
The purpose of my research was to investigate the relationship of social cognition and executive function (organization, planning, problem-solving, inhibition, working memory, attention) across normal adolescent development. Ninety typically developing boys between the ages of 10 and 18, from Crescent and the greater community, participated in this study.
Preliminary results indicate that working memory and word generation abilities are significant predictors of verbal social abilities, while visual-spatial processing is a predictor of nonverbal social abilities. High-functioning boys who are around the age when puberty begins (ages 13 to 15) show a plateau in working memory and attention abilities. This is important as many social situations involve continually changing information and subtle signals, especially in adolescence.
A plateau in working memory and attention abilities in early adolescence may make processing of this information more difficult. This is also important to know, as children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorders already have deficits in these areas, making it even more difficult for them to navigate the adolescent years.