Cognition and mental health in children and young people.

Parker, Jenna (2022) Cognition and mental health in children and young people. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Background: Mental health difficulties are highly prevalent across adolescence and can change over the course of adolescent development. Left untreated, such difficulties can significantly impact an individual’s health, income, and interpersonal relationships later in life, and create an enormous burden on social, healthcare, and economic systems. The factors implicated in the onset and maintenance of mental health problems include cognitive factors due to their importance in regulating emotions and behaviour.

Method: A systematic review and meta-analyses were conducted investigating the relationship between anxiety and attention and memory in children and young people. A data-driven approach with a large secondary data set was then used to explore changes in mental health profiles between mid- and late adolescence and their association with cognitive factors.

Results: The meta-analysis identified a significant bias towards threat when using an affective Stroop task, but not the dot probe task. The empirical paper found distinct profiles of mental health are identifiable and largely stable between mid- and late adolescence. An impaired ability to adjust risk-taking behaviours in response to contextual information was linked to profiles of persistent externalising symptoms and social difficulties. Poor spatial working memory was associated with persisting externalising problems.

Conclusions: Aspects of cognitive function are related to youth mental health difficulties. Childhood and adolescent anxiety are associated with attentional biases both towards and away from threat, and greater symptomology is possibly linked with biases towards recalling negative information over the long-term but not the short-term. These data suggest that mental health and cognition interact across development; anxiety can impact on the cognitive processing of information, and cognitive control in mid-adolescence contributes to persistent patterns of mental health difficulties.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2022 10:34
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 10:34


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