Verbal-spatial IQ discrepancies impact brain activation associated with the resolution of cognitive conflict in children and adolescents.
The performance of 54 boys with fragile X syndrome (FXS), ages 7 to 13 years, was compared to that of a group of typically developing boys who were matched on mental age (MA) and ethnicity across multiple measures of executive function (EF). Boys with FXS varied in their ability to complete EF measures, with only 25.9% being able to complete a set-shifting task and 94.4% being able to complete a memory for word span task. When compared to the control group, and controlling for MA and maternal education, boys with FXS showed significant deficits in inhibition, working memory, cognitive flexibility/set-shifting, and planning. No group differences were observed in processing speed. Mental age significantly impacted performance on working memory, set-shifting, planning, and processing speed tasks for both groups. In boys with FXS, MA significantly predicted performance on working memory and set-shifting tasks. Our findings suggest that deficits in EF in boys with FXS are not solely attributable to developmental delays but, rather, present as a true array of neurocognitive deficits.