The different contribution of executive control to temporal comparison and reproduction in children and adults

Anne-Claire Rattat, Nicolas Chevalier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study investigated the role of executive functions in the development of two aspects of timing: temporal reproduction and comparison. Children aged 7 and 10 years and young adults were asked to either reproduce target durations (i.e., reproduction task) or judge the similarity of two target durations (i.e., comparison task). These temporal tasks were performed in isolation (single-task condition) or in conjunction (dual-task condition) with an executive task tapping inhibitory control (i.e., Stroop-like interference in animals size task). The results showed that the concurrent executive task degraded temporal performance to a greater extent at the age of 7 years than in older children and adults, and that it had much less influence on temporal comparison than on temporal reproduction. Conversely, regardless of age group, the concurrent timing of stimuli decreased response accuracy in the inhibitory control task in both temporal tasks, but to a greater extent in the comparison than the reproduction task. Furthermore, the dual task condition reduced response time in the executive task, but only in children aged 7 years -and not in older children and adults. Thus, both duration reproduction and comparison relate to executive functions, although the relation is stronger for reproduction. Importantly, timing progress during childhood stems at least partly from more efficient executive functions (more specifically inhibitory control).
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cognition and Development
Early online date19 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Aug 2020


  • inhibitory control
  • temporal comparison
  • temporal reproduction
  • children
  • timing
  • interference effects


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