Measuring executive function in Indian mothers and their 4-year-old daughters

Antje von Suchodoletz, Pauline L. Slot, Delshad M. Shroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Executive function (EF), including cognitive flexibility, attention shifting, and inhibitory control, has been linked to a range of outcomes across the lifespan, such as school readiness and academic functioning, job performance, health, and social-emotional well-being. Yet, research investigating links between parent EF and child EF is still limited. This is partly due to challenges in measuring the same EF abilities in parents and their children. The current study investigated the applicability of a computer-based battery of various EF tasks for use with both mothers and children. The battery included the following EF tasks: Dimensional Change Card Sort, Hearts and Flowers, and Fish Flanker. Participants were 80 Indian mothers and their 4-year-old daughters. EF was measured with regard to accuracy scores, response time, and inverse efficiency (IE) scores of the most complex blocks of each task. Scoring patterns indicated that children's task performance appeared to be determined by their ability to recognize the cue indicating which task to perform at any given trial and to inhibit an incorrect response. In contrast, mothers’ performance appeared to be determined by response time, that is, their ability to be quick in giving the correct response. However, for both children and mothers, IE scores best captured individual differences in EF performance between participants. Furthermore, confirmatory factor analyses found that, for both children and mothers, all EF measures loaded on a latent factor, suggesting that the measures shared common variance in EF. There appeared to be no significant association between mothers’ and children's EF scores, controlling for several background variables. Directions for further research include examining the applicability of the EF task battery to reliably describe developmental trajectories of EF abilities over time, and further examining variability in the parent–child EF association across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-28
Number of pages13
JournalPsyCh Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • computer-based EF task battery
  • executive function (EF)
  • mother–child EF association

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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