Not quite as grown-up as we like to think: parallels between cognition in childhood and adulthood

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; *Attention; Child, Preschool; *Color Perception; *Discrimination Learning; Female; Habituation, Psychophysiologic; Humans; Male; *Pattern Recognition, Visual; Problem Solving; Reaction Time; *Reversal Learning; Set (Psychology)


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Greater continuity in cognition between children and adults may exist than is usually appreciated. It was thought that after 3 to 4 years of age, the problem in switching on the dimensional-change card-sort task disappears. We show here, however, that if speed is used as the dependent measure, the effect of the first dimension is evident even in adults. Adults, like preschoolers, show difficulty in switching from a block of sorting by color or shape to a block of sorting by the other dimension. Notably, performance throughout the session was affected by the first dimension by which stimuli were sorted. We hypothesize that perhaps adults never fully outgrow any of the cognitive and perceptual biases of infancy and early childhood. Other examples of such biases that appear to still be present in adults are discussed. Conversely, the assumption that the optimal dependent measure for adults is the most sensitive measure for children is questioned.

DOI of Published Version



Psychol Sci. 2005 Apr;16(4):291-7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID