Working memory is structured hierarchically
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We examined trends over time in vocabulary, a key component of verbal intelligence, in the nationally representative General Social Survey of U.S. adults (n = 29,912). Participants answered multiple-choice questions about the definitions of 10 specific words. When controlled for educational attainment, the vocabulary of the average U.S. adult declined between the mid-1970s and the 2010s. Vocabulary declined across all levels of educational attainment (less than high school, high school or 2-year college graduate, bachelor's or graduate degree), with the largest declines among those with a bachelor's or graduate degree. Hierarchical linear modeling analyses separating the effects of age, time period, and cohort suggest that the decline is primarily a time period effect. Increasing educational attainment has apparently not improved verbal ability among Americans. Instead, as educational attainment has increased, those at each educational level are less verbally skilled even though the vocabulary skills of the whole population are unchanged.
The structure of executive function (EF), as it pertains to distinct "hot" (affectively salient) and "cool" (affectively neutral) dimensions, in early childhood is not well understood. Given that the neural circuitry underlying EF may become increasingly differentiated with development and enriched experiences, EF may become more dissociable into hot and cool factors with age and advantaged socioeconomic circumstances. We used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to compare a multidimensional hot and cool EF model with a unidimensional model in early childhood, and to investigate model invariance across age and maternal education. Participants were 1900 children (2–5 years of age) from socioeconomically diverse families in an urban area in the southern United States. We aggregated data from four previously collected studies that included EF tasks, thus this study includes secondary data analysis. We tested model fit across (1) children older and younger than 4 years of age and (2) higher (college experience) versus lower (no college) maternal education. Results indicated that a two-factor hot and cool EF model provided the best fit to the data across all groups. Although the number of factors was invariant, only partial metric invariance was met for age, suggesting that how certain tests represent EF changes with age. For maternal education, partial scalar invariance was met, with higher maternal education associated with higher scores on certain EF tasks. Findings with this large sample suggest that EF includes two factors characterized as hot and cool. However, the study raises questions about model invariance, particularly across age.
The following points emerge from the present review of strategies to improve the learning of proper names: (a) Face-name mnemonic techniques based on mental imagery have been shown to be efficient in laboratory settings in both young and older adults. Unfortunately, they are particularly effortful and require capacity for imagination, making them difficult to apply in a real conversational context. (b) Strategies based on spaced retrieval practice have been found to be efficient both in laboratory and more ecological settings, and both in young and older adults. (c) Techniques based on spaced retrieval practice appear to be more efficient than those based on mental imagery. (d) More recent research has proposed new perspectives, such as basing learning strategies on implicit, rather than explicit, memory processes such as hyper-binding. Finally, neuroscience research has started to investigate the possibility of using non-invasive electrical brain stimulation to improve name learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
Behavioral self-regulation supports young children's learning and is a strong predictor of later academic achievement. The capacity to manage one's attention and control one's behavior is commonly measured via direct assessments of executive function (EF). However, to understand how EF skills contribute to academic achievement, it is helpful to investigate how EF manifests in the classroom context and in children's overt behavior. The current study observed 172 kindergarteners for a single school day and captured the total proportion of class time children were off-task in the classroom. This behavior was further classified into specific subtypes to assess whether these categorizations differentially predicted components of EF and academic achievement in first grade. Results indicated that children with lower response inhibition spent statistically significantly more time in one type of off-task behavior (i.e., off-task actively engaging with other materials), and children with lower working memory spent significantly more time in another type of off-task behavior (i.e., off-task passively disengaged). Higher proportion of class time spent off-task passively disengaged in kindergarten further statistically significantly predicted fewer gains in reading comprehension in first grade. These findings illustrate the utility of measuring children's EF in a classroom context, and how fine-grained observation systems can shed light on the specific classroom and child processes that influence learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)