Effects of social and non-social reward on executive function in preschoolers

Kanda Lertladaluck, Nuanchan Chutabhakdikul, Nicolas Chevalier, Yusuke Moriguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Executive function, a set of higher order cognitive skills underlying goal directed behaviors, develops rapidly during preschool years. Reward increases executive unction engagement in adolescents and adults. However, there is still a scarcity of data on how reward affects executive function in young children. The present study examines whether different incentive types contribute differently to executive function performance and neural activity in children.

Methods: Twenty-five preschoolers of 5-6 years old were provided an incentive Go/No-go task, comparing social, non-social, and non-reward conditions. Activations in the prefrontal regions during the tasks were measured using functional near-infrared spectroscopy.

Results: The results revealed that social reward enhanced right prefrontal activations in young children. In contrast to adult literature, younger children did not show any significant differences in executive function performance across conditions.

Conclusion: This study expands our understanding of motivation and EF engagement in preschoolers. Specifically, social reward enhanced prefrontal activations in young children. The implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain and Behavior
Issue number9
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2020


  • reward
  • executive function
  • prefrontal cortex
  • near-infrared spectroscopy
  • children


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