Executive demands of the Tower of London task in Brazilian teenagers

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Psychology and Neuroscience
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Dias N.M.
Seabra A.G.
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Some executive tasks may require diverse abilities to solve, having implications for the comprehension of an individual's performance. This study investigated the processes involved in the resolution of a complex test of executive function (EF): the Tower of London (ToL) task. One hundred twenty-four healthy teenagers, 11-14 years old (M = 12.5, SD = 1.14) participated in the study. They were tested using the Auditory Working Memory Test, Visual Working Memory Test, Computerized Stroop Test, Semantic Generation Test, Cancellation Attention Test, and Trail Making Test B, in addition to the ToL. Multivariate analysis showed significant effects of age on visual and auditory working memory, interference control, and planning, with a marginal effect on selective attention. A gender effect was found only on visual working memory where boys scored higher than girls. Significant correlations were found between EF measures despite their low and moderate magnitudes. Performance on the ToL task was correlated with some executive ability measures. The most difficult problems that required four and five moves were more correlated with EF measures than the easier problems that required two and three moves. Regression analyses revealed that only auditory working memory integrated the ToL explanation model after controlling for age. However, the explained variability was very modest, suggesting that other abilities not analyzed in this study may participate in the ToL solution. In conclusion, this investigation highlighted the modest role of auditory working memory in ToL scores in a sample of teenagers.
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