Departmental Seminar: Early executive function: social origins and social consequences
Professor Claire Hughes (University of Cambridge)
Thursday, 19 November 2015, 12pm to 1pm
Lecture Theatre C, Experimental Psychology
Hosted by Professor Gaia Scerif
A recent festschrift for my PhD supervisor, Jim Russell, sent me down memory lane and so, in today’s talk, I hope to provide a whistle-stop tour of the various lines of research relating to children’s executive functions (EF) in which I’ve been involved. In the first part of the talk I will briefly discuss the evidence for impairments in EF in both typical and atypical groups of children as well the
links between EF and both theory of mind school success. In the second (larger) part of my talk I will review the multi-dimensional links between parenting and EF (stimulation, scaffolding, sensitivity & control). Overall, I will argue that there are converging lines of support for social influences, but that a fine-grained approach is important to elucidate mechanisms, as well as a recognition that sometimes parents might hinder rather than help EF development. I will conclude by presenting some ‘hot off the press’ results from a two-generation cross-cultural study of EF that involved more than 500 parent-child dyads living in the UK and in Hong Kong – the findings from this study highlight the complexities of social influences and consequences of EF.