Early Executive Fuction: Social Origins and Social Consequences

There will be a light buffet lunch to follow the talk in the common area next to theatre A. Please join us there. If you are interested in meeting Claire separately, please do get in touch with Gaia (gaia.scerif@psy.ox.ac.uk ), as there are a small number of remaining slots in her schedule of meetings with staff and students on Thursday. Early Career Researchers are particularly encouraged to speak to her - she is a role model.

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.