Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-zts5g Total loading time: 0.283 Render date: 2021-10-19T15:04:42.482Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Executive Functions do not Underlie Performance on the Edinburgh Social Cognition Test (ESCoT) in Healthy Younger and Older Adults

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 January 2020

R. Asaad Baksh*
Affiliation:
Centre for Dementia Prevention, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Tereża Bugeja
Affiliation:
Human Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, UK
Sarah E. MacPherson
Affiliation:
Human Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, UK Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, UK
*
*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Asaad Baksh, Centre for Dementia Prevention, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, 9A Bioquarter, 9 Little France Road, EdinburghEH16 4UX, UK. E-mail: rbaksh@exseed.ed.ac.uk

Abstract

Objective:

Current measures of social cognition have shown inconsistent findings regarding the effects of executive function (EF) abilities on social cognitive performance in older adults. The psychometric properties of the different social cognition tests may underlie the disproportional overlap with EF abilities. Our aim was to examine the relationship between social cognition and EF abilities using the Edinburgh Social Cognition Test (ESCoT; Baksh, R.A., Abrahams, S., Auyeung, B., & MacPherson, S.E. (2018). The Edinburgh Social Cognition Test (ESCoT): Examining the effects of age on a new measure of theory of mind and social norm understanding. PloS One, 13(4), e0195818.), a test assessing four different aspects of social cognition: cognitive theory of mind (ToM), affective ToM, interpersonal understanding of social norms, and intrapersonal understanding of social norms.

Method:

We administered the ESCoT, EF measures of inhibition, set shifting, updating, and a measure of processing speed to 30 younger and 31 older adults. We also administered the Visual Perspective Taking task (VPT) as a ToM test thought to be reliant on EF abilities.

Results:

Better performance on cognitive ToM was significantly associated with younger age and slower processing speed. Better performance on affective ToM and ESCoT total score was associated with being younger and female. Better performance on interpersonal understanding of social norms was associated with being younger. EF abilities did not predict performance on any subtest of the ESCoT. In contrast, on the VPT, the relationship between age group and performance was fully or partially mediated by processing speed and updating.

Conclusions:

These findings show that the ESCoT is a valuable measure of different aspects of social cognition and, unlike many established tests of social cognition, performance is not predicted by EF abilities.

Type
Regular Research
Copyright
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Abrahams, S., Newton, J., Niven, E., Foley, J., & Bak, T.H. (2014). Screening for cognition and behaviour changes in ALS. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration, 15(1–2), 914.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Adolphs, R. (2009). The social brain: Neural basis of social knowledge. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 693716.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Altman, D.G. (1991). Practical Statistics for Medical Research. London: Chapman and Hall.Google Scholar
Apperly, I.A., Samson, D., & Humphreys, G.W. (2005). Domain-specificity and theory of mind: Evaluating neuropsychological evidence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(12), 572577.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Baez, S., Herrera, E., Villarin, L., Theil, D., Gonzalez-Gadea, M.L., Gomez, P., Mosquera, M., Huepe, D., Strejilevich, S., Vigliecca, N.S, Matthäus, F., Decety, J., Manes, F., & Ibañez, A.M. (2013). Contextual social cognition impairments in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. PLoS One, 8(3), e57664.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bailey, P.E. & Henry, J.D. (2008). Growing less empathic with age: Disinhibition of the self-perspective. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 63(4), P219P226.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bailey, P.E., Henry, J.D., & Von Hippel, W. (2008). Empathy and social functioning in late adulthood. Aging and Mental Health, 12(4), 499503.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Baker, C.A., Peterson, E., Pulos, S., & Kirkland, R.A. (2014). Eyes and IQ: A meta-analysis of the relationship between intelligence and ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’. Intelligence, 44, 7892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baksh, R.A., Abrahams, S., Auyeung, B., & MacPherson, S.E. (2018). The Edinburgh Social Cognition Test (ESCoT): Examining the effects of age on a new measure of theory of mind and social norm understanding. PloS One, 13(4), e0195818.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Hill, J., Raste, Y., & Plumb, I. (2001). The ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’ test revised version: A study with normal adults, and adults with Asperger Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42(2), 241251.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bayarri, M.J., Benjamin, D.J., Berger, J.O., & Sellke, T.M. (2016). Rejection odds and rejection ratios: A proposal for statistical practice in testing hypotheses. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 72, 90103.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bernstein, D.M., Thornton, W.L., & Sommerville, J.A. (2011). Theory of mind through the ages: Older and middle-aged adults exhibit more errors than do younger adults on a continuous false belief task. Experimental Aging Research, 37(5), 481502.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bottiroli, S., Cavallini, E., Ceccato, I., Vecchi, T., & Lecce, S. (2016). Theory of mind in aging: Comparing cognitive and affective components in the faux pas test. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 62, 152162.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bradford, E.E., Brunsdon, V.E., & Ferguson, H.J. (2016). Mapping the relationship between theory of mind and executive functioning in adulthood. Paper presented at the Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the in Psychonomic Society, Boston, MA, USA.Google Scholar
Bradford, E.E., Brunsdon, V.E., & Ferguson, H.J. (2017). The relationship between theory of mind and executive functioning across the lifespan. Paper presented at the Paper presented at the Social and Affective Neuroscience Society (SANS) Conference, Los Angeles, CA, USA.Google Scholar
Bursac, Z., Gauss, C.H., Williams, D.K., & Hosmer, D.W. (2008). Purposeful selection of variables in logistic regression. Source Code for Biology and Medicine, 3(1), 17.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Castelli, I., Baglio, F., Blasi, V., Alberoni, M., Falini, A., Liverta-Sempio, O., Nemni, R, & Marchetti, A. (2010). Effects of aging on mindreading ability through the eyes: An fMRI study. Neuropsychologia, 48(9), 25862594.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cavallini, E., Lecce, S., Bottiroli, S., Palladino, P., & Pagnin, A. (2013). Beyond false belief: Theory of mind in young, young-old, and old-old adults. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 76(3), 181198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Charlton, R.A., Barrick, T.R., Markus, H.S., & Morris, R.G. (2009). Theory of mind associations with other cognitive functions and brain imaging in normal aging. Psychology and Aging, 24(2), 338348.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Craik, F.I. & Salthouse, T.A. (2011). The Handbook of Aging and Cognition. Hove: Psychology Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Decety, J., Grezes, J., Costes, N., Perani, D., Jeannerod, M., Procyk, E., Grassi, F, & Fazio, F. (1997). Brain activity during observation of actions. Influence of action content and subject’s strategy. Brain, 120(10), 17631777.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Delis, D.C., Kaplan, E., & Kramer, J.H. (2001). Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS). San Antonio: Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
Duval, C., Piolino, P., Bejanin, A., Eustache, F., & Desgranges, B. (2011). Age effects on different components of theory of mind. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(3), 627642.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
German, T.P. & Hehman, J.A. (2006). Representational and executive selection resources in ‘theory of mind’: Evidence from compromised belief-desire reasoning in old age. Cognition, 101(1), 129152.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Halberstadt, J., Ruffman, T., Murray, J., Taumoepeau, M., & Ryan, M. (2011). Emotion perception explains age-related differences in the perception of social gaffes. Psychology and Aging, 26(1), 133.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Happé, F.G., Winner, E., & Brownell, H. (1998). The getting of wisdom: Theory of mind in old age. Developmental Psychology, 34(2), 358.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hedden, T. & Gabrieli, J.D. (2004). Insights into the ageing mind: A view from cognitive neuroscience. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 5(2), 8796.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Henry, J.D., Phillips, L.H., Ruffman, T., & Bailey, P.E. (2013). A meta-analytic review of age differences in theory of mind. Psychology and Aging, 28(3), 826.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
JASP Team (2018). JASP (Version 0.10.0) [Computer software].Google Scholar
Johansson Nolaker, E., Murray, K., Happé, F., & Charlton, R.A. (2018). Cognitive and affective associations with an ecologically valid test of theory of mind across the lifespan. Neuropsychology, 32(6), 754763.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kardos, P., Leidner, B., Pléh, C., Soltész, P., & Unoka, Z. (2017). Empathic people have more friends: Empathic abilities predict social network size and position in social network predicts empathic efforts. Social Networks, 50, 15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Keightley, M.L., Winocur, G., Burianova, H., Hongwanishkul, D., & Grady, C.L. (2006). Age effects on social cognition: faces tell a different story. Psychology and Aging, 21(3), 558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kemp, J., Després, O., Sellal, F., & Dufour, A. (2012). Theory of Mind in normal ageing and neurodegenerative pathologies. Ageing Research Reviews, 11(2), 199219.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lee, P.H. (2014). Should we adjust for a confounder if empirical and theoretical criteria yield contradictory results? A simulation study. Scientific Reports, 4, 6085.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lee, M.D. & Wagenmakers, E.J. (2014). Bayesian Cognitive Modeling: A Practical Course. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Li, X., Wang, K., Wang, F., Tao, Q., Xie, Y., & Cheng, Q. (2013). Aging of theory of mind: The influence of educational level and cognitive processing. International Journal of Psychology, 48(4), 715727.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Love, M.C.N., Ruff, G., & Geldmacher, D.S. (2015). Social sognition in older adults: A review of reuropsychology, neurobiology, and functional connectivity. Medical & Clinical Reviews, 1, 16.Google Scholar
MacPherson, S.E., Phillips, L.H., & Della Sala, S. (2002). Age, executive function and social decision making: a dorsolateral prefrontal theory of cognitive aging. Psychology and Aging, 17(4), 598609.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Mahy, C.E., Vetter, N., Kühn-Popp, N., Löcher, C., Krautschuk, S., & Kliegel, M. (2014). The influence of inhibitory processes on affective theory of mind in young and old adults. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 21(2), 129145.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Maylor, E.A., Moulson, J.M., Muncer, A.M., & Taylor, L.A. (2002). Does performance on theory of mind tasks decline in old age? British Journal of Psychology, 93(4), 465485.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
McKinnon, M.C. & Moscovitch, M. (2007). Domain-general contributions to social reasoning: theory of mind and deontic reasoning re-explored. Cognition, 102(2), 179218.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Miyake, A., Friedman, N.P., Emerson, M.J., Witzki, A.H., Howerter, A., & Wager, T.D. (2000). The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex ‘frontal lobe’ tasks: A latent variable analysis. Cognitive Psychology, 41(1), 49100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moran, J.M., Jolly, E., & Mitchell, J.P. (2012). Social-cognitive deficits in normal aging. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32(16), 55535561.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Murray, K., Johnston, K., Cunane, H., Kerr, C., Spain, D., Gillan, N., & Happé, F. (2017). A new test of advanced theory of mind: The ‘Strange Stories Film Task’ captures social processing differences in adults with autism spectrum disorders. Autism Research, 10(6), 11201132.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Phillips, L.H., Bull, R., Allen, R., Insch, P., Burr, K., & Ogg, W. (2011). Lifespan aging and belief reasoning: Influences of executive function and social cue decoding. Cognition, 120(2), 236247.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Phillips, L.H., MacLean, R.D., & Allen, R. (2002). Age and the understanding of emotions neuropsychological and sociocognitive perspectives. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 57(6), P526P530.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Qureshi, A.W., Apperly, I.A., & Samson, D. (2010). Executive function is necessary for perspective selection, not Level-1 visual perspective calculation: Evidence from a dual-task study of adults. Cognition, 117(2), 230236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Radecki, M.A., Cox, S.R., & MacPherson, S.E. (2019). Theory of mind and psychosocial characteristics in older men. Psychology and Aging, 34(1), 145.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Reitan, R.M. & Wolfson, D. (1993). The Halstead–Reitan Neuropsychological Test Battery: Theory and Clinical Interpretation (2nd ed.). Tucson, AZ: Neuropsychology Press.Google Scholar
Salthouse, T.A. (2009). When does age-related cognitive decline begin? Neurobiology of Aging, 30(4), 507514.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Salthouse, T.A. & Ferrer-Caja, E. (2003). What needs to be explained to account for age-related effects on multiple cognitive variables? Psychology and Aging, 18(1), 91110.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Samson, D., Apperly, I.A., Braithwaite, J.J., Andrews, B.J., & Bodley Scott, S.E. (2010). Seeing it their way: Evidence for rapid and involuntary computation of what other people see. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 36(5), 12551266.Google ScholarPubMed
Samson, D., Apperly, I.A., Kathirgamanathan, U., & Humphreys, G.W. (2005). Seeing it my way: A case of a selective deficit in inhibiting self-perspective. Brain, 128(5), 11021111.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sebastian, C.L., Fontaine, N.M., Bird, G., Blakemore, S.-J., De Brito, S.A., McCrory, E.J., & Viding, E. (2012). Neural processing associated with cognitive and affective theory of mind in adolescents and adults. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7, 5363.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Shamay-Tsoory, S.G., Shur, S., Barcai-Goodman, L., Medlovich, S., Harari, H., & Levkovitz, Y. (2007). Dissociation of cognitive from affective components of theory of mind in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research, 149(1), 1123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stiller, J. & Dunbar, R.I. (2007). Perspective-taking and memory capacity predict social network size. Social Networks, 29(1), 93104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stone, V.E., Baron-Cohen, S., & Knight, R.T. (1998). Frontal lobe contributions to theory of mind. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 10(5), 640656.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sullivan, S. & Ruffman, T. (2004). Social understanding: How does it fare with advancing years? British Journal of Psychology, 95(1), 118.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Victor, C.R. & Yang, K. (2012). The prevalence of loneliness among adults: A case study of the United Kingdom. The Journal of Psychology, 146(1–2), 85104.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wagenmakers, E.-J., Verhagen, A.J., Ly, A., Matzke, D., Steingroever, H., Rouder, J.N., & Morey, R.D. (2017). The need for Bayesian hypothesis testing in psychological science. In Lilienfeld, S.O. & Waldman, I. (Eds.), Psychological science under scrutiny: recent challenges and proposed solutions, (pp. 123138). Oxford, UK: John Wiley and Sons.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, Y. & Su, Y. (2006). Theory of mind in old adults: The performance on Happé’s stories and faux pas stories. Psychologia, 49(4), 228237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, Z. & Su, Y. (2013). Age-related differences in the performance of theory of mind in older adults: A dissociation of cognitive and affective components. Psychology and Aging, 28(1), 284291.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wechsler, D. (2008). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale–Fourth Edition (WAIS–IV). San Antonio, TX: Pearson.Google Scholar

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Executive Functions do not Underlie Performance on the Edinburgh Social Cognition Test (ESCoT) in Healthy Younger and Older Adults
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Executive Functions do not Underlie Performance on the Edinburgh Social Cognition Test (ESCoT) in Healthy Younger and Older Adults
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Executive Functions do not Underlie Performance on the Edinburgh Social Cognition Test (ESCoT) in Healthy Younger and Older Adults
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *