Age Differences in the Subcomponents of Executive Functioning. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVES: Across the life span, deficits in executive functioning (EF) are associated with poor behavioral control and failure to achieve goals. Though EF is often discussed as one broad construct, a prominent model of EF suggests that it is composed of three subdomains: inhibition, set shifting, and updating. These subdomains are seen in both younger (YA) and older adults (OA), with performance deficits across subdomains in OA. Therefore, our goal was to investigate whether subdomains of EF might be differentially affected by age, and how these differences may relate to broader global age differences in EF. METHODS: To assess these age differences, we conducted a meta-analysis at multiple levels, including task level, subdomain level, and of global EF. Based on previous work, we hypothesized that there would be overall differences in EF in OA. RESULTS: Using 1,268 effect sizes from 401 articles, we found overall differences in EF with age. Results suggested that differences in performance are not uniform, such that variability in age effects emerged at the task level, and updating was not as affected by age as other subdomains. DISCUSSION: These findings advance our understanding of age differences in EF, and stand to inform early detection of EF decline.

published proceedings

  • J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci

altmetric score

  • 285.012

author list (cited authors)

  • Maldonado, T., Orr, J. M., Goen, J., & Bernard, J. A.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Maldonado, Ted||Orr, Joseph M||Goen, James RM||Bernard, Jessica A

editor list (cited editors)

  • Gutchess, A.

publication date

  • June 2020