Exploring the development of attentional set shifting in young children with a novel Intradimensional/Extradimensional shift task

Eva Reindl*, Christoph Johannes Völter, Jessica Campbell-May, Josep Call, Amanda Madeleine Seed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Attentional set shifting is a core part of cognition, allowing quick and flexible adaption to new demands. The study of its development during early childhood has been hampered by a shortage of measures not requiring language. This article argues for a revival of the Intradimensional/Extradimensional (ID/ED) shift task by presenting a new nonverbal version of the task (Shifting Tray task). Children (N = 95 3- to 5-year-olds; 49 girls; predominantly European White) were presented with pairs of trays, each filled with a substrate and an upside-down cup on top, and were asked to find stickers. In the pre-switch phase, children learned (through trial and error) which dimension (substrate or cup) was predictive of the rewards. In the post-switch phase, all stimuli were exchanged. For children in the intradimensional shift condition, the dimension predictive of the sticker was the same as the one predictive in the pre-switch phase. For children in the extradimensional shift condition, the previously irrelevant dimension was now relevant. Results showed that most 3-year-olds were able to switch, and older children did not outperform younger children. The easy and flexible nature of the task allows researchers to investigate the impact of labels and instructions and to use it in cross-cultural and comparative research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105428
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume221
Early online date27 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Keywords

  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Attentional set shifting
  • Attention shifting
  • Executive functions
  • Intradimensional/Extradimensional shift
  • Cognitive development

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