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Browsing by Subject "executive functions"

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  • Laakso, Hanna (2015)
    Objective: Cognitive impairment as a consequence of a stroke is common. Advanced age increases the frequency of poststroke cognitive deficits. Particularly executive dysfunction has an important role in poststroke disability. Complex by their nature, however, measuring executive function is difficult. The Hayling test, Design fluency task and Questioning task are some of the less common assessment methods of executive functions, and thus, they are not widely studied. The aim of the present study was to assess the feasibility of these tests in elderly patients three months after ischemic stroke. Performances on these tests were compared to conventional assessment methods of executive functions, and their predictive value on functional disability in follow-up was examined. Methods: 62 stroke patients and 39 control subjects, aged 55-85, underwent comprehensive neurological and neuropsychological examinations three months after the index stroke. Executive functions were studied with the Trail Making test, Stroop test, Wisconsin card sorting test, Verbal fluency task as well as with the Hayling test, Design fluency task and Questioning task. The modified Rankin Scale (mRS) and the Lawton's Instrumental activities of daily living -scale (IADL) were used to assess functional abilities at three months, and the mRS after 15 months follow-up. Results and conclusions: The Hayling test and Questioning task and the four conventional tests of executive functions differentiated stroke patients from healthy controls. Furthermore, the executive functions predicted functional dependence in the elderly stroke patients. The Hayling test was most consistently associated with functional disability as evaluated with mRS and IADL three months after the stroke, and predicted functional disability as evaluated with mRS at 15 months follow-up. Of all executive functions tests, the Hayling test proved to be the most constant predictor of functional abilities in elderly stroke patients. However, there is no golden standard for measuring executive functions, and in the future, more sensitive methods are needed. Nevertheless, the present study confirms the importance of assessing executive functions in clinical populations, when predicting functional disability even in the long-term.
  • Mikkola, Katri (2016)
    Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder of executive functions, which affects the social, occupational, educational, and personal life of the individuals concerned. The main characteristics of this disorder are age inappropriate inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. The research on adult ADHD is still scarce, especially concerning the neural networks of attention. Childhood ADHD has been associated with impairment in two of the attentional network subsystems alerting and executive control, leaving the third subsystem, orienting of attention, intact. Research on adult ADHD and the subsystems of attentional network is contradicting. The aim of this study was to investigate neural activation of these attentional networks during highly demanding attentional tasks in adults with ADHD. The first hypothesis was that the ADHD group have decreased activity in the frontoparietal network during orienting of attention in contrast to the control group. The second hypothesis was that the ADHD group have decreased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate gyrus, and precuneus during divided attention in contrast to the control group. Both the ADHD group and the control group included 16 participants, aged 25 – 56 across all participants, whose brain activation was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging during the attentional tasks. The tasks included divided and selective attention. Both conditions included task-irrelevant novel distractors. The results supported both hypotheses. The ADHD group had decreased brain activity in the frontoparietal network during top-down controlled and bottom-up triggered attention. Decreased activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate gyrus and precuneus was observed during divided attention in the ADHD group. Furthermore, the default-mode network was hyperactivated in the ADHD group. Activation of this network has been related to increasing task demands and failure of maintaining an alert state. Thus, adult ADHD seems to associate with abnormally functioning attention networks. Moreover, the results indicated that in addition to dysfunctional alerting and executive control, adults with ADHD have also impaired orienting of attention. These dysfunctional attentional networks may have a connection with the inattentive symptoms of adult ADHD.
  • Hartikka, Roosa (2019)
    Objectives. One of the key factors responsible for one’s self-regulatory skills are considered to be temperament-based effortful control (EC) and higher-order executive functions (EFs). These have been shown to share some mutual neural networks and brain regions, but little is known about the connections between them. In particular, there is a lack of longer-term follow-up studies. This study examined the association between parental-assessed EC in childhood and test performance based EFs in early adolescence. In addition, the aim was to investigate the connections between sub-features of EC and EFs, and whether gender affects the relationship between them. Methods. This study consisted of 183 children and adolescents who had participated at the age of 5,5 and 12 years in the follow-up phases of the cohort study, which began in 1998. EC was assessed by The Children’s Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ) and EFs were evaluated with subtests from Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment for Children II (NEPSY-II), Trail Making Test (TMT), Conners’ Continuous Performance Test II (CPT) and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). Results and conclusions. Higher parental-rated EC at 5,5 years of age was associated EFs at age 12, especially in tasks measuring linguistic and non-linguistic fluency and inhibitory skills (verbal and design fluency subtests from NEPSY-II). Looking at the individual subfactors of EC, the ability to maintain attentional focus (attentional focusing), the tendency to enjoy low intensity stimuli (low intensity pleasure), and the ability to suppress inappropriate responses (inhibitory control) were found to be associated with higher EFs (better performance in verbal and design fluency subtests from NEPSY-II, less perseveration errors in WCST and lower response time in CPT). In addition, some gender specific connections were found: boys’ ability to shift attention was associated with higher stimulus resolution (higher D Prime score in CPT). The results suggest that childhood temperament could be used to identify potential challenges in EFs later in early adolescence.
  • Molina Bustamante, Susana (2022)
    This study aims to reveal how executive functions are related to early numeracy skills. Several articles have been published in this respect. The present one focuses on just two executive functions, inhibition and switching, and two early numeracy skills, counting and numerical relational skills. The study wants to determine how the accuracy and reaction time in inhibition and switching tasks correlate with the counting and numerical relational skills in four-year-old preschoolers, and if there is any general latent condition under which these relations are modified. The participants of this study are 4-year-old preschoolers (N=189) from preschools in the Helsinki Area (N=21), Finland. They have done two different tests that have been used to gather the data. A digital version of the Flanker tasks (modified from Fan, et al. (2002)) has measured inhibition and switching accuracy and reaction time. The Early Numeracy Test (Aunio, Hautamäki, Heiskari, & Van Luit, 2006) has measured the preschoolers’ performance in counting and relational skills. The data has been quantitatively analysed with SPSS and R. A correlation analysis has been performed to understand how the variables are related (calculation of Spearman’s rank correlation). A latent profile analysis has been run using the mclust package, to see if there could be extracted any latent variable that could drive the correlation in different directions. The main results reveal that accuracy in inhibition and switching tasks have a weak to moderate positive correlation with the successful use of counting and relational skills in 4-year-old preschoolers. Reaction time seems to be a variable whose implications change depending on the participants’ EN-performance, as visible in the latent profile analysis. However, there have not been yielded any robust conclusions about the existence of latent variables.
  • Seikku, Tiina (2023)
    Objective Executive function deficits are associated with a risk for psychopathology in childhood, but a consensus on the exact details of the relationship is lacking. This study sought to clarify the relationship by investigating in a child psychiatric sample the association between preschool executive functions and concurrent and school-age 1) psychiatric symptoms and 2) ADHD diagnosis, and 3) the role of age and sex of the child and socioeconomic status of the family in the relationships. Methods The baseline data (n=166) used in this study was recruited in 2015-2017 from child psychiatric outpatient clinics, and the follow-up sample (n=65) was collected by contacting the original sample in 2021. At baseline the children were aged 4 to 7 (70.5% boys), and at follow-up 8 to 13 years (75.4% boys). Executive functions (including inhibition, attention, and execution of action) were measured at baseline with The Attention and Executive Function Rating Inventory – Preschool Version filled in by daycare nurses, and psychiatric symptoms (internalizing, externalizing, attention and total) were measured at both timepoints by age-appropriate versions of Child Behavior Check List filled in by parents. ADHD diagnoses at both timepoints were collected from medical records. Linear and logistic regression analyses were performed to investigate the concurrent and predictive associations. Age and sex of the child, and parental education were controlled in the analyses. Results Preschool executive functions were associated with concurrent psychiatric symptoms to varying degrees. Contrary to previous findings, no concurrent associations with total psychiatric symptoms or predictive associations with any psychiatric symptom categories were found. All preschool executive functions were associated with concurrent ADHD diagnosis, and they continued to predict school-age ADHD diagnosis, even when preschool age diagnosis was controlled for. Conclusion The role of executive function deficits in ADHD is evident, and they may precipitate the disorder. Executive functions are an essential part of ADHD assessment. The association with psychiatric symptoms is more complex, as different components of executive functions are differently associated with internalizing, externalizing and attention symptoms. More research is needed to find out if the results are applicable only to clinical populations.