Continuity and Change in Executive Functioning Across the Pubertal Transition to Adolescence

Natasha Chaku, Fordham University


Puberty marks the beginning of adolescence and a period of considerable development. Research has suggested that there are substantial changes in executive functioning (EF) during adolescence as youth begin engaging in riskier behaviors and decision-making. Thus, the current study sought to connect pubertal development with changes in EF during adolescence using secondary data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) (NICHD, 2004). Conditional and parallel process growth models were employed to assess how pubertal development is associated with the development of hot and cold EF. Findings indicate that hot and cold EF continue to develop in adolescence. More mature boys and girls tended to have better cold EF skills. More mature boys tended to have better hot EF skills while more mature girls tended to have worse hot EF skills. The results suggest that (1) in contrast to previous literature, early pubertal timing may confer some cognitive benefits to early maturing youth and (2) pubertal processes impact the development of hot and cold EF skills differentially by gender. This study provides new insights into the development of EF during adolescence and marks adolescence as a period of both opportunity and vulnerability.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Chaku, Natasha, "Continuity and Change in Executive Functioning Across the Pubertal Transition to Adolescence" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10601831.