Executive functioning (fully) and processing speed (mostly) mediate intelligence deficits in children born very preterm

Chris Brydges, Corinne Reid, Catherine Campbell, Noel French, Mike Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Children born very preterm (<32 weeks gestational age) are known to be at increased risk of neurocognitive impairments, in domains including executive functioning, processing speed, and fluid and crystallised intelligence. Given the close association between these constructs, the current study investigated a specific model, namely whether executive functioning and/or processing speed mediates the relationship between preterm birth and intelligence. Participants were 204 children born very preterm and 98 full-term children, who completed a battery of tasks measuring executive functioning, processing speed, and fluid and crystallised intelligence. Independent-samples t-tests found significantly poorer performance by children born preterm on all measures, and a confirmatory factor analysis found preterm birth to be significantly related to each of the cognitive domains. A latent-variable mediation model found that executive functioning fully mediated the associations between preterm birth and both fluid and crystallised intelligence. Processing speed fully mediated the preterm birth-fluid intelligence association, but only partially mediated the preterm birth-crystallised intelligence association. Future research should consider a longitudinal study design to test whether these deficits and mediating effects remain throughout childhood and adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-108
JournalIntelligence
Volume68
Issue numberMay-June 2018
Early online date5 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Apr 2018

Keywords

  • executive function
  • processing speed
  • intelligence
  • preterm birth

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