Term of Award

Summer 2022

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Ty Boyer

Committee Member 1

Jeff Klibert

Committee Member 2

Dorthie Cross Mokdad

Abstract

Neurodevelopmental disorders and increasing age are marked by abnormal functioning of executive functions, especially working memory. Cognitive training programs have been developed to attempt to strengthen the underlying cognitive capacities that foster executive functioning abilities. These interventions have demonstrated variable results in populations of older adults and children. Given the wide range of previous findings, it is possible that a third variable is implicated in performance on these types of interventions. Additionally, given the active role of visual processing in executive function (EF) training programs and its functional relationship with working memory, it is hypothesized that visual processing could co-vary with response to training interventions. Moreover, with the potential clinical impact for such interventions for rural areas, understanding the mechanisms behind these interventions and identifying possible non-responders would be of benefit. Thus, the current study aimed to determine if individual and developmental factors impact performance on a demanding working memory (WM) task in a way that could explain past findings and offer recommendations for treatment prediction. Using an asynchronous, online design, a diverse sample of adult and child participants completed three cognitive tasks, including measures of working memory, and a novel cognitive task. Performance on a digit span task, a measure of WM, was significantly correlated with performance efficacy on a novel visual search task. Children also performed faster than adults on the search task. Individuals from rural areas also performed better than urban individuals on digit span, and the novel search task. The present study demonstrates evidence for the role of individual, developmental, and geographic factors in performance on a novel cognitive task. As such, it is possible that these factors have confounded previous findings; future studies would extend the literature by determining if these factors can be used to predict treatment response and thus treatment appropriateness for various groups.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

Yes

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