Concept: Executive functions
The present study examined the relationship between personality and individual differences in multi-tasking ability. Participants enrolled at the University of Utah completed measures of multi-tasking activity, perceived multi-tasking ability, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. In addition, they performed the Operation Span in order to assess their executive control and actual multi-tasking ability. The findings indicate that the persons who are most capable of multi-tasking effectively are not the persons who are most likely to engage in multiple tasks simultaneously. To the contrary, multi-tasking activity as measured by the Media Multitasking Inventory and self-reported cell phone usage while driving were negatively correlated with actual multi-tasking ability. Multi-tasking was positively correlated with participants' perceived ability to multi-task ability which was found to be significantly inflated. Participants with a strong approach orientation and a weak avoidance orientation - high levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking - reported greater multi-tasking behavior. Finally, the findings suggest that people often engage in multi-tasking because they are less able to block out distractions and focus on a singular task. Participants with less executive control - low scorers on the Operation Span task and persons high in impulsivity - tended to report higher levels of multi-tasking activity.
Do brain training games work? The beneficial effects of brain training games are expected to transfer to other cognitive functions. Yet in all honesty, beneficial transfer effects of the commercial brain training games in young adults have little scientific basis. Here we investigated the impact of the brain training game (Brain Age) on a wide range of cognitive functions in young adults.
We have been investigating an ecologically valid strategy-training approach to enable adults with executive dysfunction to attain everyday life goals. Here, we report the protocol of a randomized controlled trial of the effects of this training compared to conventional therapy in a sample of community-dwelling adults with acquired brain injury and/or stroke.Methods/design: We will recruit 100 community-dwelling survivors at least six months post-acquired brain injury or stroke who report executive dysfunction during a telephone interview, confirmed in pre-training testing. Following pre-training testing, participants will be randomized to the ecologically valid strategy training or conventional therapy and receive two one-hour sessions for eight weeks (maximum of 15 hours of therapy). Post-testing will occur immediately following the training and three months later. The primary outcome is self-reported change in performance on everyday life activities measured using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure, a standardized, semi-structured interview. Secondary outcomes are objective measurement of performance change from videotapes of treatment session, Performance Quality Rating Scale; executive dysfunction symptoms, Behavioural Rating Inventory of Executive Function – Adult; participation in everyday life, Mayo-Portland Adaptability Inventory Participation Index; and ability to solve novel problems, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Profile.
Anecdotal reports link alcohol intoxication to creativity, while cognitive research highlights the crucial role of cognitive control for creative thought. This study examined the effects of mild alcohol intoxication on creative cognition in a placebo-controlled design. Participants completed executive and creative cognition tasks before and after consuming either alcoholic beer (BAC of 0.03) or non-alcoholic beer (placebo). Alcohol impaired executive control, but improved performance in the Remote Associates Test, and did not affect divergent thinking ability. The findings indicate that certain aspects of creative cognition benefit from mild attenuations of cognitive control, and contribute to the growing evidence that higher cognitive control is not always associated with better cognitive performance.
Inositol-stabilized arginine silicate (ASI; Nitrosigine(®)) has been validated to increase levels of arginine, silicon and nitric oxide production. To evaluate potential enhancement of mental focus and clarity, ASI (1500 mg/day) was tested in two double-blind placebo-controlled crossover (DBPC-X) studies using the Trail Making Test (TMT, Parts A and B). In the two studies, healthy males took ASI for 14 and 3 days, respectively. In the first study, after 14 days of dosing, TMT B time decreased significantly from baseline (28% improvement, p = 0.045). In the second study evaluating shorter-term effects, TMT B time decreased significantly compared to placebo (33% improvement, p = 0.024) in a 10-min period. After 3 days of dosing, TMT B time significantly decreased from baseline scores (35% improvement, p < 0.001). These findings show that ASI significantly improved the ability to perform complex cognitive tests requiring mental flexibility, processing speed and executive functioning.
Standing Up for Learning: A Pilot Investigation on the Neurocognitive Benefits of Stand-Biased School Desks
- International journal of environmental research and public health
- Published over 4 years ago
Standing desks have proven to be effective and viable solutions to combat sedentary behavior among children during the school day in studies around the world. However, little is known regarding the potential of such interventions on cognitive outcomes in children over time. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the neurocognitive benefits, i.e., improvements in executive functioning and working memory, of stand-biased desks and explore any associated changes in frontal brain function. 34 freshman high school students were recruited for neurocognitive testing at two time points during the school year: (1) in the fall semester and (2) in the spring semester (after 27.57 (1.63) weeks of continued exposure). Executive function and working memory was evaluated using a computerized neurocognitive test battery, and brain activation patterns of the prefrontal cortex were obtained using functional near infrared spectroscopy. Continued utilization of the stand-biased desks was associated with significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities. Changes in corresponding brain activation patterns were also observed. These findings provide the first preliminary evidence on the neurocognitive benefits of standing desks, which to date have focused largely on energy expenditure. Findings obtained here can drive future research with larger samples and multiple schools, with comparison groups that may in turn implicate the importance of stand-biased desks, as simple environmental changes in classrooms, on enhancing children’s cognitive functioning that drive their cognitive development and impact educational outcomes.
The attention-grabbing quality of the infant cry is well recognized, but how the emotional valence of infant vocal signals affects adult cognition and cortical activity has heretofore been unknown. We examined the effects of two contrasting infant vocalizations (cries vs. laughs) on adult performance on a Stroop task using a cross-modal distraction paradigm in which infant distractors were vocal and targets were visual. Infant vocalizations were presented before (Experiment 1) or during each Stroop trial (Experiment 2). To evaluate the influence of infant vocalizations on cognitive control, neural responses to the Stroop task were obtained by measuring electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERPs) in Experiment 1. Based on the previously demonstrated existence of negative arousal bias, we hypothesized that cry vocalizations would be more distracting and invoke greater conflict processing than laugh vocalizations. Similarly, we expected participants to have greater difficulty shifting attention from the vocal distractors to the target task after hearing cries vs. after hearing laughs. Behavioral results from both experiments showed a cry interference effect, in which task performance was slower with cry than with laugh distractors. Electrophysiology data further revealed that cries more than laughs reduced attention to the task (smaller P200) and increased conflict processing (larger N450), albeit differently for incongruent and congruent trials. Results from a correlation analysis showed that the amplitudes of P200 and N450 were inversely related, suggesting a reciprocal relationship between attention and conflict processing. The findings suggest that cognitive control processes contribute to an attention bias to infant signals, which is modulated in part by the valence of the infant vocalization and the demands of the cognitive task. The findings thus support the notion that infant cries elicit a negative arousal bias that is distracting; they also identify, for the first time, the neural dynamics underlying the unique influence that infant cries and laughs have on cognitive control.
Arguments for including mindfulness instruction in higher education have included claims about the benefits of mindfulness practice for critical thinking. While there is theoretical support for this claim, empirical support is limited. The aim of this study was to test this claim by investigating the effects of an online mindfulness intervention on executive function, critical thinking skills and associated thinking dispositions.
Exercise-induced cognitive improvements have traditionally been observed following aerobic exercise interventions; that is, sustained sessions of moderate intensity. Here, we tested the effect of a 6 week high-intensity training (HIT) regimen on measures of cognitive control and working memory in a multicenter, randomized (1:1 allocation), placebo-controlled trial.
Socioeconomic disparities are associated with differences in cognitive development. The extent to which this translates to disparities in brain structure is unclear. We investigated relationships between socioeconomic factors and brain morphometry, independently of genetic ancestry, among a cohort of 1,099 typically developing individuals between 3 and 20 years of age. Income was logarithmically associated with brain surface area. Among children from lower income families, small differences in income were associated with relatively large differences in surface area, whereas, among children from higher income families, similar income increments were associated with smaller differences in surface area. These relationships were most prominent in regions supporting language, reading, executive functions and spatial skills; surface area mediated socioeconomic differences in certain neurocognitive abilities. These data imply that income relates most strongly to brain structure among the most disadvantaged children.