Executive functions and emotional processes follow a time-dependent development that reflects the brain’s anatomo-functional maturation. Though the assessment of these cognitive functions is largely examined, in children the role of emotions in the mental set-shifting is still rarely investigated. The aim of this study was to assess how attention shifting can be modulated by the valence of emotional stimuli. To this end, sixty-two primary school children were tested with a new emotional task-switching paradigm obtained by manipulating the emotional valence and physical features of the stimulus pool. Thus, two tasks were alternatively presented: the Valence task and the Color task. Based on executive performance results, we found a lengthening of response times and a lower accuracy in the emotionally connoted task (Valence task), compared to the neutral task (Color task). The data demonstrate that the processing of emotional stimuli modulates the task-switching performance during development. These findings could help in the implementation of teaching strategies that can promote the development of executive functions and, therefore, functionally improve the overall academic performance of children. Finally, a better understanding of the developmental trajectories of executive functions can help neuropsychologists both in the early diagnosis and treatment of potential executive alterations.

Can Stimulus Valence Modulate Task-Switching Ability? A Pilot Study on Primary School Children

Laura Mandolesi;
2022

Abstract

Executive functions and emotional processes follow a time-dependent development that reflects the brain’s anatomo-functional maturation. Though the assessment of these cognitive functions is largely examined, in children the role of emotions in the mental set-shifting is still rarely investigated. The aim of this study was to assess how attention shifting can be modulated by the valence of emotional stimuli. To this end, sixty-two primary school children were tested with a new emotional task-switching paradigm obtained by manipulating the emotional valence and physical features of the stimulus pool. Thus, two tasks were alternatively presented: the Valence task and the Color task. Based on executive performance results, we found a lengthening of response times and a lower accuracy in the emotionally connoted task (Valence task), compared to the neutral task (Color task). The data demonstrate that the processing of emotional stimuli modulates the task-switching performance during development. These findings could help in the implementation of teaching strategies that can promote the development of executive functions and, therefore, functionally improve the overall academic performance of children. Finally, a better understanding of the developmental trajectories of executive functions can help neuropsychologists both in the early diagnosis and treatment of potential executive alterations.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC HEALTH
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11588/886512
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