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Browsing by Subject "formal operations"

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  • Heikkilä, Heini (2010)
    Aim: So far, most of the cognitive neuroscience studies investigating the development of brain activity in childhood have made comparisons between different age groups and ignored the individual stage of cognitive development. Given the wide variation in the rate of cognitive development, this study argues that chronological age alone cannot explain the developmental changes in brain activity. This study demonstrates how Piaget's theory and information on child's individual stage of development can complement the age-related evaluations of brain oscillatory activity. In addition, the relationship between cognitive development and working memory is investigated. Method: A total of 33 children (17 11-year-olds, 16 14-year-olds) participated in this study. The study consisted of behavioural tests and an EEG experiment. Behavioral tests included two Piagetian tasks (the Volume and Density task, the Pendulum task) and Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices task. During EEG experiment, subjects performed a modified version of the Sternberg's memory search paradigm which consisted of an auditorily presented memory set of 4 words and a probe word following these. The EEG data was analyzed using the event-related desynchronization / synchronization (ERD/ERS) method. The Pendulum task was used to assess the cognitive developmental stage of each subject and to form four groups based on age (11- or 14-year-olds) and cognitive developmental stage (concrete or formal operational stage). Group comparisons between these four groups were performed for the EEG data. Results and conclusions: Both age- and cognitive stage-related differences in brain oscillatory activity were found between the four groups. Importantly, age-related changes similar to those reported by previous studies were found also in this study, but these changes were modified by developmental stage. In addition, the results support a strong link between working memory and cognitive development by demonstrating differences in memory task related brain activity and cognitive developmental stages. Based on these findings it is suggested that in the future, comparisons of development of brain activity should not be based only on age but also on the individual cognitive developmental stage.