Relations between cognitive control and emotion in typically developing children




Hrabok, Marianne Marjorie

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Objective: The goal of this study was to investigate relations between aspects of cognitive control and emotion in typically developing children, 7 to 9 years of age. This was investigated by examining performance on n-back working memory tasks that varied according to the level of cognitive control and emotion (e.g., faces, reward value) processing required. Relations between n-back performance and parental questionnaires of behavior were also examined. Participants & Methods: Participants included 77 typically developing children, 7 to 9 years of age. Each participant completed two novel n-back tasks. The first task involved working memory (0-back, 1-back, and 2-back levels) for emotional faces (neutral, happy, sad). The second task involved working memory (0-back, 1-back, and 2-back levels) for number stimuli with differing levels of reward (two tokens, six tokens). Matrix Reasoning was also completed as a screening measure of cognitive function. Parents completed a Child History questionnaire, the BRIEF, Conners 3 AI-Parent, and the Emotion Questionnaire. iv Results: No significant main effect was found for emotive content of stimuli or reward value. A significant effect of n-back level was found, both in terms of per hit RT and accuracy rates for both Emotive and Reward n-back. Significant relations were found between age and Sad conditions on 1-back and 2-back of the Emotive n-back, as well as 2-back conditions in the Reward n-back. No relations were found between BRIEF scales and performance on either n-back task. Significant correlations were found between Emotionality and accuracy measures of the Reward n-back task. Conclusions: This study made several important contributions to understanding emotion and cognitive control interplay. These contributions include introducing novel tasks for assessing this interplay, and providing insight on developmental relations and interaction between emotion and working memory and individual differences in emotionality in day to day life. Results are discussed with respect to theories of emotional and cognitive control interplay, temperament and individual differences, and the development of cognitive control. Directions for future research and implications are discussed.



development, cognition, emotion, working memory, reward, faces, temperament, child neuropsychology