Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Yuko Munakata

Second Advisor

Heidi Day

Third Advisor

Harrison Carpenter

Abstract

The present research addresses how emotion regulation and executive functions may be related in 7- and 8-year-old children, allowing us to probe the question of whether these two constructs may have shared, rather than specialized, cognitive underpinnings. To do this, we explored whether specific temperamental traits (i.e. internalizing and externalizing) relate to different types of cognitive control (i.e. inhibitory and proactive control) through individual differences. Temperament was measured through a parent-report survey and inhibitory and proactive control were measured through two cognitive tasks standardly used for measuring those constructs, the Antisaccade task and the AX-continuous performance task (respectively). We did not find evidence that specific externalizing and internalizing temperamental traits reliably predict cognitive control. In post hoc analyses, we found that a combined measure of externalizing and internalizing measures (i.e. Total Problem Behavior) significantly predicted worse inhibitory control, while controlling for age and gender, suggesting that worse emotion regulation is related to worse inhibitory control. From these results, we were able to conclude that there may indeed be shared cognitive mechanisms between emotion regulation and certain executive functions, such as inhibitory control, though we cannot make any specific claims about what those mechanisms may be, given that emotion regulation does not appear to be related to proactive control.

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