Assessment of hot and cool executive function in young children: Age-related changes and individual differences

Donaya Hongwanishkul, Keith R. Happaney, Wendy S C Lee, Philip David Zelazo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

480 Scopus citations


Although executive function (EF) is often considered a domain-general cognitive function, a distinction has been made between the "cool" cognitive aspects of EF more associated with dorsolateral regions of prefrontal cortex and the "hot" affective aspects more associated with ventral and medial regions (Zelazo & Müller, 2002). Assessments of EF in children have focused almost exclusively on cool EF. In this study, EF was assessed in 3- to 5-year-old children using 2 putative measures of cool EF (Self-Ordered Pointing and Dimensional Change Card Sort) and 2 putative measures of hot EF (Children's Gambling Task and Delay of Gratification). Findings confirmed that performance on both types of task develops during the preschool period. However, the measures of hot and cool EF showed different patterns of relations with each other and with measures of general intellectual function and temperament. These differences provide preliminary evidence that hot and cool EF are indeed distinct, and they encourage further research on the development of hot EF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-644
Number of pages28
JournalDevelopmental Neuropsychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canada Research Chairs Program to Philip David Zelazo.


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