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Limited effects of executive-process training in interned and non-interned adolescents: Issues of transfer to school-related tasks, performance-based, and self-assessed cognition
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. Institutionen för sociala och psykologiska studier, Karlstads Universitet.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3450-8067
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5884-6469
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a process-based executive functions (EFs) training program in interned and in non-interned adolescents. In particular, the extent to which training effects were transferred to non-trained executive functions, scholastic performance, as well as to self-reported everyday executive functioning, was addressed. Three groups participated in the study: one group consisted of interned adolescents receiving EF-training (n=21), the other two 30 non-interned adolescents randomized to either EF-training (n=15) or alternatively placebo-training (n=15). All three groups participated in 28 computer-based training sessions, each lasting 20 minutes, over a period of 10 weeks. Theresults showed that the non-interned adolescents receiving EF training did not improve over and above that of the placebo-training group on any of the criterion and transfer tasks, nor in self-assessed cognition. Instead both groups showed equivalent gains suggesting that the improvements seen after training most likely is driven by placebo responses. Comparing the interned and non-interned training progression revealed that the non-interned group gained substantially more across training than the interned group. Still, both groups showed equal improvements in several non-trained tasks, along with self-reported aspects of working memory and planning ability. The implication of these findings for EF training as part of rehabilitation in incarcerated settings will be discussed below.

Keywords [en]
Cognitive training, Executive functions, Adolescence, Antisocial behavior, Self-reports
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology; caring sciences in social sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-144759OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-144759DiVA, id: diva2:1182560
Funder
The Kempe FoundationsThe Swedish National Board of Institutional Care, SiS, 1.2009/0018.5-1Available from: 2018-02-13 Created: 2018-02-13 Last updated: 2018-06-09
In thesis
1. Cognition in interned adolescents: aspects of executive functions and training
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cognition in interned adolescents: aspects of executive functions and training
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Anstaltsplacerade ungdomars kognition : aspekter på exekutiv förmåga och träning därav
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis examines adolescents with a history of antisocial behavior with a focus on investigating executive functioning, impulsivity and experiences of everyday executive problems. The thesis further investigates the associations between self-reported and performance-based measures. Finally, it investigates whether processed-based executive function training can influence trained and non-trained executive functions and related scholastic abilities.

Antisocial behavior is a complex concept, associated with high costs of personal, interpersonal and societal nature. In general, people implement the majority of their life´s share of delinquent and antisocial behaviors around the adolescent years, as described by the so-called age-crime curve. This period is associated with rapid cognitive development, and deficits in this period of time have been associated with an increased susceptibility to partake in antisocial behavior. Also, larger impairments are associated with more severe behaviors. In many western countries, there exist a duality of both welfare and judicial considerations in the case of antisocial individuals who are minors. As compared to adults, persons under the age of criminal responsibility typically face a different combination of rehabilitative and penal consequences from maladaptive, delinquent or antisocial behaviors. In this context, increased understanding of the cognitive underpinnings of antisocial behavior, and how best to support sound cognitive development are therefore relevant to the furthering of rehabilitative practice. This thesis expands on existing knowledge by examining interned adolescents from an executive functions framework and also investigates how it relate to other constructs of clinical relevance.

This is done in three empirical studies. The first two are cross-sectional and aimed at assessing a number of cognitive constructs and associated behaviors. The third study is aimed at examining the effects of a training intervention on said constructs. The studies indicated poorer pre-test performance by the interned adolescents as compared to their non-interned counterparts. However, no deficits specific to any one executive function was discernable. The results also showed that the internees self-reports expressed more perceived problems with inhibiting behaviors and managing unplanned prompts to shift from a planned activity. They also indicated it harder to resist impulsive behaviors related to negative affect, lower premeditative ability, and had more issues with persevering in prolonged tasks. In addition, there were a few connections between the performance-based and the self-reported accounts of executive functioning. Of particular interest was that the majority of group effects in self-reported constructs was related to the specific executive function updating, a finding not previously reported. This executive function has previously been suggested to be antecedent of antisocial behavior though. As for the training, the only substantial improvement was to perceptual speed, which occurred irrespective of training progression or experimental condition. This was mirrored by the posttest self-reports whose rather modest gains were also unrelated to both experimental conditions and training improvements.

In conclusion, executive functioning and trait-based cognition are related to some degree, and both associate to antisocial behavior as operationalized by internment status. Process-based cognitive training can however not feasibly be determined to affect or alter these relations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2018. p. 82
Series
Umeå Studies in the Educational Sciences ; 28
Keywords
interned youth, adolescence, antisocial behavior, executive functions, cognitive training, transfer, performance-based measures, self-assessment, impulsivity
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-144760 (URN)978-91-7601-832-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-03-09, Nbvh 1031, Norra Beteendevetarhuset, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
The Swedish National Board of Institutional Care, SiS, 1.2009/0018.5-1
Available from: 2018-02-16 Created: 2018-02-13 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved

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Nordvall, OlovStigsdotter Neely, AnnaJonsson, Bert

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