Studying Cognitive Abilities

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Da’Jonae Foster spent her summer research experience correlating social behaviors with cognitive abilities from childhood to early adulthood.



“We had 109 participants from 5 to 20 years old,” said Foster.  “With the scores that we got from the questionnaires and cognitive ability test, we looked at their correlation.”

Foster is grateful to her Wayne State mentor, Dr. Noa Ofen, for assistance on the statistical analysis.

“Interpreting what the data meant was the hardest part,” said Foster.

ReBUILDetroit prepares scholars during their first-year as an undergraduate for their first research experience during the following summer.

Foster recalls attending last year’s Summer Research Poster Session as an incoming freshman.

“Last year when people were talking about what they were presenting, I didn’t even know any of this.  Now I’m in their shoes, this is what I’ve been working on all summer.”

Nearly 70 posters were presented during the 2nd annual ReBUILDetroit Summer Research Poster Session at Wayne State University on July 19.

The undergraduate poster session was the culmination of the 8-week Summer Research Experience for scholars in cohorts 2015 and 2016.

Title:  Do Social Behaviors Correlate with Cognitive Abilities from Childhood to Early Adulthood?


In early childhood social behavior problems are related to an individual’s cognitive ability such as measured with tests and reports of executive functions. However, it is unclear whether social behaviors correlate with cognitive abilities from childhood to early adulthood. This study is intended to fill the gap by assessing how individual differences in social behaviors, measured with the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), are correlated with differences in cognitive abilities, measured with the Woodcock Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ III COG), in a sample of 109 participants aged from 5 to 20 years.

In our sample, age negatively correlated with two specific indices of social behavior problems, the Behavior Regulation Index in BRIEF and the Social Problems Score in the CBCL, suggesting that social behaviors improve from childhood to early adulthood. In addition, age positively correlated with specific indices of cognitive ability, the Pair Cancellation Total Correct Score, and the Visual Matching Total Correct Score in the WJ III COG, suggesting that cognitive abilities increase from childhood to early adulthood. Interestingly, negative correlations were found between the Behavior Regulation Index and both cognitive ability scores, as well as between the Social Problems Score and both cognitive ability scores. These findings suggest that social behaviors show strong correlations with cognitive abilities from childhood to early adulthood. Discussion of limitations in the data will be provided.

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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