Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Executive function, multi-scale measures, fractal, diffusion

Major Advisor

Dr. James A. Dixon

Associate Advisor

Dr. Marie Coppola

Associate Advisor

Dr. Heather Bortfeld

Field of Study


Open Access

Open Access


Cognitive control is a central issue in developmental psychology. Traditional theories of psychology solve this problem by positing a top-down central executive, which coordinates cognitive resources in pursuit of goals. We propose an alternative explanation: cognitive control arises from physical interactions across many different timescales within the system. We examined whether measures of individual differences of these multi-scale interactions could predict individual differences in executive function development. Preschool-aged participants were asked to complete a series of executive function tasks while we tracked the motion of their dominant hand. We found that multi-scale interactions differed depending on experimental constraints. We also found that individual differences on multi-scale interactions correlated with individual differences of behavioral measures. These results suggest that multi-scale measures can be used to measure executive function, and that changes in multi-scale effects may be the drivers of change in cognition.