Cognitive flexibility training has direct and near transfer effects, but no far transfer effects, preschoolers

Bianca M. C. W. van Bers, Tessa J. P. van Schijndel, Ingmar Visser, Maartje E. J. Raijmakers

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Abstract

The current project studied the direct, near transfer, and far transfer effects of cognitive flexibility training in two experiments with 117 3-year-olds. In both Experiments 1 and 2, children performed three Dimensional Change Card Sorting (DCCS) tasks in a pre-training/training/post-training design. The training consisted of giving corrective feedback in the training DCCS task. In Experiment 2, in addition, three other executive control tasks were administered during pre-training and post-training. Results showed a direct effect of feedback in the training DCCS task and transfer of this effect to the post-training DCCS task after 1 week with different sorting rules and different stimuli. These findings show that preschoolers learned to switch sorting rules in the context of the DCCS task, independent of the specific sorting rules, and that this effect is not transient. No support was found for transfer to the other executive control tasks. A possible explanation is that the feedback mainly improved rule switching, an ability that is specifically required for performing a cognitive flexibility task but not the other executive control tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104809
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume193
Early online date13 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Keywords

  • Cognitive flexibility
  • DCCS
  • Executive control
  • Feedback
  • Preschoolers
  • Transfer

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