Cognitive abilities are markers of brain development and psychopathology. Abilities, across executive, and social domains need better characterization over development, including factors that influence developmental change. This study is based on the cVEDA [Consortium on Vulnerability to Externalizing Disorders and Addictions] study, an Indian population based developmental cohort. Verbal working memory, visuo-spatial working memory, response inhibition, set-shifting, and social cognition (faux pas recognition and emotion recognition) were cross-sectionally assessed in > 8000 individuals over the ages 6–23 years. There was adequate representation across sex, urban-rural background, psychosocial risk (psychopathology, childhood adversity and wealth index, i.e. socio-economic status). Quantile regression was used to model developmental change. Age-based trajectories were generated, along with examination of the impact of determinants (sex, childhood adversity, and wealth index). Development in both executive and social cognitive abilities continued into adulthood. Maturation and stabilization occurred in increasing order of complexity, from working memory to inhibitory control to cognitive flexibility. Age related change was more pronounced for low quantiles in response inhibition (β∼4 versus </=2 for higher quantiles), but for higher quantiles in set-shifting (β > −1 versus −0.25 for lower quantiles). Wealth index had the largest influence on developmental change across cognitive abilities. Sex differences were prominent in response inhibition, set-shifting and emotion recognition. Childhood adversity had a negative influence on cognitive development. These findings add to the limited literature on patterns and determinants of cognitive development. They have implications for understanding developmental vulnerabilities in young persons, and the need for providing conducive socio-economic environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103475
JournalAsian journal of psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • Cognitive development
  • Emotion recognition
  • Executive functions
  • Growth trajectory
  • Quantile regression
  • Social cognition


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