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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: The structure of executive functions in preschool children and chimpanzees
Author(s): Völter, Christoph J
Reindl, Eva
Felsche, Elisa
Civelek, Zeynep
Whalen, Andrew
Lugosi, Zsuzsa
Duncan, Lisa
Herrmann, Esther
Call, Josep
Seed, Amanda M
Issue Date: 2022
Date Deposited: 3-May-2022
Citation: Völter CJ, Reindl E, Felsche E, Civelek Z, Whalen A, Lugosi Z, Duncan L, Herrmann E, Call J & Seed AM (2022) The structure of executive functions in preschool children and chimpanzees. Scientific Reports, 12, Art. No.: 6456.
Abstract: Executive functions (EF) are a core aspect of cognition. Research with adult humans has produced evidence for unity and diversity in the structure of EF. Studies with preschoolers favour a 1-factor model, in which variation in EF tasks is best explained by a single underlying trait on which all EF tasks load. How EF are structured in nonhuman primates remains unknown. This study starts to fill this gap through a comparative, multi-trait multi-method test battery with preschoolers (N = 185) and chimpanzees (N = 55). The battery aimed at measuring working memory updating, inhibition, and attention shifting with three non-verbal tasks per function. For both species the correlations between tasks were low to moderate and not confined to tasks within the same putative function. Factor analyses produced some evidence for the unity of executive functions in both groups, in that our analyses revealed shared variance. However, we could not conclusively distinguish between 1-, 2- or 3-factor models. We discuss the implications of our findings with respect to the ecological validity of current psychometric research.
DOI Link: 10.1038/s41598-022-08406-7
Rights: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
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