11-02-2021 | Empirical Research
Cognitive Flexibility and Selective Attention’s Associations with Internalizing Symptoms in Adolescents: Are they Reciprocal?
Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence | Uitgave 5/2021Log in om toegang te krijgen
Although both executive functions and internalizing symptoms go through important changes during adolescence, the role of executive functions in internalizing symptoms is unclear. Based on developmental cascade models of psychopathology, this study aimed to fill this gap by studying the bidirectional predictive relationship between executive functions (cognitive flexibility and selective attention) and symptoms of depression and social anxiety. A sample of 698 adolescents (40.8% girls) between 12 and 17 years of age (M = 14.59, SD = 1.36) participated in three waves over 1 year. They completed measures of executive functions and internalizing symptoms. Depressive symptoms predicted deficits in executive functions. Conversely, social anxiety symptoms predicted an improvement in cognitive flexibility. These results suggest that executive function deficits are not a risk factor for the development of depressive symptoms but a consequence of them, and there are specific patterns of associations for depressive and social anxiety symptoms.