Executive function in teen and adult women: Association with maternal status and early adversity
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The aim of this study was to determine the impact of maternal age on executive function and the moderating effects of women's maternal status and early-life experiences. Four groups of women were assessed as a function of their age (teens vs. adults) and maternal status (mothers vs. nonmothers). Participants completed executive function tests, including Spatial Working Memory (SWM), Intra-Extra-Dimensional-Set-Shift (IED), and Stockings of Cambridge (SOC). Women also completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire to assess their experiences of early adversity. Results showed that for the IED-task, there were main effects of age and maternal status and an interaction between the two; adults performed better than teens, mothers performed better than nonmothers, and teen nonmothers performed the least well of all groups. For the SWM-task, adults performed better than teens. Our results indicate that although age is an important factor for proper executive functioning, different tasks are affected differently and other factors such as maternity and adverse childhood experiences moderate this functioning.
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