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Plasticity of task switching in childhood: Mechanisms and sequential progression (2018-2021)

 

Team

Yana Fandakova 

Dr. Yana Fandakova                

Principal Investigator

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Neda Khosravani 

Neda Khosravani 

PhD Candidate

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 Silvia Bunge

Prof. Dr. Silvia Bunge                

Project Collaborator

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 Corinna Laube

Dr. Corinna Laube                             

Collaborative Post-doctoral Fellow

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Abstract (2018-2021)

In a rapidly changing world, switching between different tasks is often required to adjust behavior to changing circumstances and to achieve long-term goals. As children grow up, they face an increasing number of situations that require flexible switching between tasks, such as shifting mental gears from one lesson to the next, finding alternative ways to solve a problem, or taking notes while listening to a teacher. However, switching to a different task comes at a cost: children are slower and make more errors than adults under high-switch task conditions, presumably reflecting the protracted development of cognitive control processes and their underlying neural circuitry. Building on previous research suggesting that age differences in cognitive control processes decrease with task-switching practice, the proposed study aims at elucidating (a) the mechanisms that allow children to improve their task-switching performance during practice; and (b) the antecedents of individual differences in these improvements. Specifically, this project will examine: (i) whether practicing task switching improves different cognitive control components of task switching in children (9–10 years) relative to single-task training or no training groups; (ii) the extent to which practice-related improvements in task switching reflect greater efficiency of cognitive processes engaged prior to practice, changes in the nature of the cognitive processes and task representations supporting task switching, or both; (iii) whether individual differences in developmental status prior to training predict individual differences in task-switching plasticity. These research questions will be addressed by articulating behavioral and neurophysiological theories and levels of analysis. 

 

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