Executive function in children with externalizing and comorbid internalizing behavior problems

Steven Woltering, Victoria Lishak, Nick Hodgson, Isabela Granic, Philip David Zelazo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Background The goal of this study is to investigate differences in executive function (EF) in children with different levels of disruptive behavior problems (DBP). Methods Ninety-three children between 7 and 12 years old with DBP were compared to 63 normally developing peers on a battery of EF tasks that varied in the amount of required emotion regulation ('hot' EF). Results Differences in EF were found between DBP and comparison groups as indexed by hot EF tasks. Self-reported emotion scales, in conjunction with physiological recordings of heart rate, confirmed that emotions were elicited during hot EF. Conclusions Results suggest that difficulties in hot EF underlie externalizing problem behaviors in middle childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.


  • Behaviour problems
  • child development
  • emotion regulation
  • executive function
  • individual differences


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