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Age Differences in Executive Functions within a Sample of Brazilian Children and Adolescents

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 June 2013

Natália Martins Dias*
Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (Brazil)
Amanda Menezes
Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (Brazil)
Alessandra Gotuzo Seabra
Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (Brazil)
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Natália Martins Dias. Caixa Postal 45. Moenda, Itatiba, CEP 13.252–755. São Paulo (Brazil). E-mail:


Executive abilities have been suggested to show differential age-related changes. This study aimed to extend this evidence to a Brazilian sample, which was composed of 572 children and adolescents aged 6 to 14 years, assessed in tests of visual and auditory working memory, selective attention, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, attentional abilities, verbal fluency and planning. ANOVAs revealed significant age effect on performance in all tests, with a trend toward better performance with the progression of age, even in differential ways. Overall, the performance on simpler tests, such as the basic attention, increased with age progression until around 11 or 12 years, when performance becomes more stable. However, in more complex tasks, including working memory tasks, the performance showed a more continuous improvement. There was gender effect in two measures: visual working memory, in which boys outperformed girls, and verbal fluency, in which the girls outperformed boys. In general, the results of this Brazilian sample were similar to those reported by studies conducted in other countries, what suggests that Brazilian socio-cultural specificities, at least of the participants of this sample, were not sufficient to reveal a distinct pattern of progression.

Research Article
Copyright © Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid 2013 

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This article is based on the Master’s thesis of the first author (FAPESP Scholarship) under the supervision of the third author.
This work was financed in part by the Mackenzie Research Fund _ MackPesquisa


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