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Title: A developmental cognitive neuroscience approach to the investigation of conduct problems and classroom behaviour for learning
Author: Smith, Hannah
ISNI:       0000 0004 6353 3648
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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With a high prevalence of conduct problems (CP) in school-aged children, effective interventions for these youths are of great importance. This thesis considers CP in the context of the classroom, including examinations of executive function (EF) and emotion-related skills; the development and evaluation of a classroom-based intervention to improve behaviours for learning; and an EEG investigation of cognitive control and emotion regulation (ER). The heterogeneous nature of CP is considered throughout, with an examination of the callous-unemotional (CU) traits subtype. In two experimental studies, pupils with CP (with and without CU traits) were found to have deficits in EF and emotion-related skills. Low behavioural and academic self-perceptions and poor student-teacher relationships (STR) were also identified. For the first time, emotion lability/negativity was identified as a mechanism through which CP is associated with student-teacher conflict. A systematic review of intervention outcomes for CU traits indicated generally poorer outcomes for these youths, but demonstrated the potential for behaviour change. Based on this work, a cognitive neuroscience informed intervention for mainstream pupils with CP was developed and evaluated. The intervention yielded mixed results, with poor fidelity from teaching staff possibly accounting for this. Finally, a direct measure of cognitive and emotional control was addressed through a pilot study with adults, using an EEG emotion-induction go/no-go paradigm. A distinct N2 component was found, providing support for this tool as a measure of ER. Self-reported EF and ER were not associated with the N2 response; possible reasons for this are discussed. The results in this thesis advance our understanding of CP in the school context, provide support for the utility of the CU traits distinction, and examine the effectiveness of intervention approaches for these pupils. Furthermore, measurement issues in EF and ER research are highlighted and related to a novel EEG measurement tool.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral