A comparison of cognitive processes and components of neurological maturation in 3-and-11 year-old children
Butt, Marilyn K.
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The relationship between the child's cogni tive development and neurological maturation has been of theoretical interest for many year s. Due to diff iculties such as the lack of sophisticated techniques for measur ing neurolog ical changes and a paucity of normative data, few studies exist that have attempted to correlate the two factors. Recent theory on intellectual development has proposed that neurological maturation may be a factor in the increase of short-term memory storage space. Improved technology has allowed reliable recordings of neurolog ical maturation.. In an attempt to correlate cogni tive development and neurological maturation, this study tested 3-and II-year old children. Fine motor and gross motor short-term memory tests were used to index cogni tive development. Somatosensory evoked potentials elici ted by median nerve stimulation were used to measure the time required for the sensation to pass along the nerve to specific points on the somatosensory pathway. Times were recorded for N14, N20, and P22 interpeak latencies. Maturation of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (outside the brain and spinal cord) was indi~ated by the recorded times. Signif icant developmental di fferences occurred between 3-and ll-year-olds in memory levels, per ipheral conduction velocity and central conduction times. Linear regression analyses showed that as age increased, memory levels increased and central conduction times decreased. Between the ll-year-old groups, there were no significant differences in central or peripheral nervous system maturation between subjects who achieved a 12 plus score on the digit span test of the WISC-R and those who scored 7 or lower on the same test. Levels achieved on the experimental gross and fine motor short-term memory tests differed significantly within the ll-year-old group.