Development of executive functions from childhood to adolescence in very preterm-born individuals - A longitudinal study.

Everts, Regula; Schöne, Corina G.; Mürner-Lavanchy, Ines; Steinlin, Maja (2019). Development of executive functions from childhood to adolescence in very preterm-born individuals - A longitudinal study. Early human development, 129, pp. 45-51. Elsevier 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2018.12.012

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Preterm-born individuals are at risk for poorer executive functions. Longitudinal studies investigating whether preterm-born individuals present persistent cognitive deficits, or a transient delay of development are scarce. We assessed developmental trajectories of executive functions (inhibition, working memory, cognitive flexibility) in 29 very preterm-born individuals (<32 weeks' gestation) and 25 term-born controls longitudinally over two time points, namely in childhood (7-12 years of age, TP1) and adolescence (13-16 years of age, TP2). Individual changes in executive functions were examined using relative difference scores (TP2 - TP1) / TP1). There was a significantly stronger improvement of inhibition (U = 477, p = .024) and cognitive flexibility (U = 312, p = .029) between childhood and adolescence in very preterm-born individuals than in term-born controls. Preterm-born individuals improved their performance in the domain of cognitive flexibility significantly more often (76%) between childhood and adolescence than controls (31%, χ = 8.6, p = .003). Controls worsened significantly more often (36%) in the domain of inhibition than the preterm group (14%, χ = 4.8, p = .028). Results indicate that healthy preterm-born individuals show prolonged development of executive functions throughout childhood up into adolescence.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology, Perception and Methodology
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Endocrinology (DFKE) > Clinic of Paediatric Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Everts, Regula; Schöne, Corina; Mürner-Lavanchy, Ines and Steinlin, Maja


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Panagiota Milona

Date Deposited:

18 Feb 2019 16:40

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 02:32

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Executive functions Longitudinal development Very preterm-born children and adolescents




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