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Performance on the task-switching paradigm is greatly affected by the amount of conflict between tasks. Compared to adults, children appear to be particularly influenced by this conflict, and this suggests that the ability to resolve interference between tasks improves with age. The authors used the task-switching paradigm to investigate how this ability develops in mid-childhood. Experiment 1 compared the ability of 5- to 8-year-olds and of 9- to 11-year-olds to switch between decisions about the color and shape of an object. The 5- to 8-year-olds were slower to switch task and experienced more interference from the irrelevant task than did the 9- to 11-year-olds, which suggests a developmental improvement in resolving conflict between tasks during mid-childhood. In Experiment 2, the influence of stimulus and response interference at different ages was examined by separating the color and shape dimensions of the stimulus and reducing overlap between responses. The results support the development of conflict resolution in task switching during mid-childhood. They also revealed that a complex interplay of factors, including the tasks used and previous experience with the task, affected children's shifting performance. (

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Psychol

Publication Date





1465 - 1479


Age Factors, Analysis of Variance, Attention, Child, Child Development, Child, Preschool, Color Perception, Conflict (Psychology), Cues, Female, Humans, Male, Neuropsychological Tests, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Photic Stimulation, Reaction Time, Task Performance and Analysis