The feasibility and acceptability of assessing inhibitory control and working memory among adolescents via an ecological momentary assessment approach

Christopher M. Warren*, Mary Ann Pentz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Early adolescence is a critical period for the development of executive function (EF). EF deficits are associated with increased engagement in multiple health risk behaviors and may be influenced by momentary factors, such as state mindfulness and physical activity. Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) leverages the increasing ubiquity of smart-phones to assess moment-to-moment changes in neurocognition and behavior with minimal recall bias and high ecological validity. As such, EMA is a promising method for delivering performance-based EF tasks and assessing the degree to which EF is influenced by momentary variation in its putative antecedents (e.g. state mindfulness and PA). This study adapts the (1) State Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale, (2) physical activity/sedentary behavior recall items, (3) complex symmetry span working memory task, and (4) the child flanker inhibitory control task into an EMA tool delivered via iPhone using Inquisit Web. This tool was piloted with a sample of 32 seventh graders over a 72 h period. Participants’ posttest survey responses indicated that they found these study activities to be enjoyable, non-burdensome, not overly difficult, and preferable to pencil-and-paper instruments. Baseline correlations between flanker task performance and both BRIEF inhibitory control (σ = .23) and working memory subscales (σ = .34) were moderate. Correlations between symmetry span working memory task performance and BRIEF inhibitory control (σabsolute = .28; σpartial = .16) and working memory subscales (σabsolute = .19; σpartial = .15) were slightly lower, demonstrating associations consistent with previous studies. This study supports the feasibility and acceptability of administering two common performance-based EF tasks to adolescents via an EMA approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1022-1034
Number of pages13
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Volume25
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • ecological momentary assessment
  • Executive function
  • state mindfulness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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