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Early development and learning conditions: the role of the executive functions
INTRODUCTION. From the neuroconstructivist approach, cognitive development is understood and studied as a process of successive rearrangement, as are its mechanisms of change and its differential results. The early years of life are essential in being able to explain the differential cognitive, emotional and social competencies. Changes in the executive functions play a crucial role in this process. Understanding it calls for interdisciplinary research that relates neuroanatomical data about the brain with functional and psychological data. AIMS. To further our knowledge in a number of different disciplines about early executive functioning in infants with differential courses of development (typical infants, infants with Down syndrome, infants born with risk factors). We suggest the existence of an early differential gradient of executive functioning.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS. A comparative and longitudinal study was conducted into the activity of typical infants (n = 10), infants with a risk factor (n = 6 infants with congenital hypothyroidism; n = 6 infants born underweight) and infants with Down syndrome (n = 6), using a stimulating material, at 1.3 years and again 9 months later. Data was analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively.