Research output

Article in Journal ()

Does one year of schooling improve children’s cognitive control and alter associated brain activation?

Citation
Brod G, Bunge S & Shing YL (2017) Does one year of schooling improve children’s cognitive control and alter associated brain activation?, Psychological Science, 28 (7), pp. 967-978.

Abstract
The “5-to-7-year shift” refers to the remarkable improvements observed in children’s cognitive abilities during this age range, particularly in their ability to exert control over their attention and behavior—that is, their executive functioning. As this shift coincides with school entry, the extent to which it is driven by brain maturation or by exposure to formal schooling is unclear. In this longitudinal study, we followed 5-year-olds born close to the official cutoff date for entry into first grade and compared those who subsequently entered first grade that year with those who remained in kindergarten, which is more play oriented. The first graders made larger improvements in accuracy on an executive-function test over the year than did the kindergartners. In an independent functional MRI task, we found that the first graders, compared with the kindergartners, exhibited a greater increase in activation of right posterior parietal cortex, a region previously implicated in sustained attention; increased activation in this region was correlated with the improvement in accuracy. These results reveal how the environmental The “5-to-7-year shift” refers to the remarkable improvements observed in children’s cognitive abilities during this age range, particularly in their ability to exert control over their attention and behavior—that is, their executive functioning. As this shift coincides with school entry, the extent to which it is driven by brain maturation or by exposure to formal schooling is unclear. In this longitudinal study, we followed 5-year-olds born close to the official cutoff date for entry into first grade and compared those who subsequently entered first grade that year with those who remained in kindergarten, which is more play oriented. The first graders made larger improvements in accuracy on an executive-function test over the year than did the kindergartners. In an independent functional MRI task, we found that the first graders, compared with the kindergartners, exhibited a greater increase in activation of right posterior parietal cortex, a region previously implicated in sustained attention; increased activation in this region was correlated with the improvement in accuracy. These results reveal how the environmental context of formal schooling shapes brain mechanisms underlying improved focus on cognitively demanding tasks.

Keywords
executive functions; development; posterior parietal cortex; school enrollment; response inhibition

StatusPublished
AuthorsBrod Garvin, Bunge Silvia, Shing Yee Lee
Publication date07/2017
Publication date online10/05/2017
Date accepted by journal24/02/2017
PublisherSAGE
ISSN 0956-7976
LanguageEnglish

Journal
Psychological Science: Volume 28, Issue 7

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
My Portal