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ERIC Number: EJ849238
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jul
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 45
ISSN: ISSN-1363-755X
More than a Matter of Getting "Unstuck": Flexible Thinkers Use More Abstract Representations than Perseverators
Kharitonova, Maria; Chien, Sarina; Colunga, Eliana; Munakata, Yuko
Developmental Science, v12 n4 p662-669 Jul 2009
Why do people perseverate, repeating prior behaviours that are no longer appropriate? Many accounts point to isolated deficits in processes such as inhibition or attention. We instead posit a fundamental difference in rule representations: flexible switchers use active representations that rely on later-developing prefrontal cortical areas and are more abstract, whereas perseverators use latent representations that rely on earlier-developing posterior cortical and subcortical areas and are more stimulus-specific. Thus, although switchers and perseverators should apply the rules they use to familiar stimuli equally reliably, perseverators should show unique limitations in generalizing their rules to novel stimuli, a process that requires abstract representations. Two behavioural experiments confirmed this counterintuitive prediction early in development. Three-year-old children sorted cards by one rule, were asked to switch to another rule, and then were asked simply to continue their behaviour, with novel cards. Perseverators applied the rule they were using (the first rule) just as reliably as switchers applied the rule they were using (the second rule) with familiar cards; however, only switchers generalized their rule to novel cards. This finding supports an early link between active representations that support switching and abstract representations that support generalization. We interpret this synergy in terms of prefrontal cortical development.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A