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      The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex "Frontal Lobe" tasks: a latent variable analysis.

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          Abstract

          This individual differences study examined the separability of three often postulated executive functions-mental set shifting ("Shifting"), information updating and monitoring ("Updating"), and inhibition of prepotent responses ("Inhibition")-and their roles in complex "frontal lobe" or "executive" tasks. One hundred thirty-seven college students performed a set of relatively simple experimental tasks that are considered to predominantly tap each target executive function as well as a set of frequently used executive tasks: the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), Tower of Hanoi (TOH), random number generation (RNG), operation span, and dual tasking. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the three target executive functions are moderately correlated with one another, but are clearly separable. Moreover, structural equation modeling suggested that the three functions contribute differentially to performance on complex executive tasks. Specifically, WCST performance was related most strongly to Shifting, TOH to Inhibition, RNG to Inhibition and Updating, and operation span to Updating. Dual task performance was not related to any of the three target functions. These results suggest that it is important to recognize both the unity and diversity of executive functions and that latent variable analysis is a useful approach to studying the organization and roles of executive functions.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Cogn Psychol
          Cognitive psychology
          Elsevier BV
          0010-0285
          0010-0285
          Aug 2000
          : 41
          : 1
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 80309-0345, USA.
          Article
          S0010-0285(99)90734-X
          10.1006/cogp.1999.0734
          10945922
          71379e30-2184-4942-b756-82af1e072a6c
          Copyright 2000 Academic Press.
          History

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