Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Childhood rituals and executive functions

By Jeni Tregay, Jane Gilmour and Tony Charman


Repetitive and ritualistic behaviours (RRBs) are a feature of both typical and atypical development. While the cognitive correlates of these behaviours have been investigated in some neurodevelopmental conditions these links remain largely unexplored in typical development. The current study examined the relationship between RRBs and executive functions in a sample of typically developing children aged between 37-107 months. Results showed that cognitive flexibility, and not response inhibition or generativity, was most strongly associated with the frequency of RRBs in this sample. In younger children (<67.5 months) cognitive flexibility was significantly associated with “Repetitive Behaviours” but in older children (>67.5 months) cognitive flexibility was associated with both “Just Right” and “Repetitive Behaviour”, suggesting that the association between EF and RRBs may become stronger with age in typically developing children

Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1348/026151008x299737
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2007). Affective and neuropsychological correlates of children’s rituals and compulsive-like behaviours: Continuities and discontinuities with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Brain and Cognition.
  2. (2007). Age-group differences in set-switching and setmaintenance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task.
  3. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact.
  4. (1984). Behavioural effects of frontal lobe lesions in man.
  5. (1996). Canadian developmental norms for 9-14-year-olds on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test.
  6. (1982). Child Behaviour.
  7. (1990). Childhood rituals: Normal development or obsessive-compulsive symptoms?
  8. (2000). Compulsive-like behaviour in individuals with Down Syndrome: It’s relation to mental age, adaptive and maladaptive behaviour.
  9. (2000). Conners’ Continuous Performance Test II: Technical guide. Toronto, Canada: Mulit-Health Systems. Childhood rituals and executive
  10. (1996). Control of action and thought: Normal development and dysfunction in autism: A research note.
  11. (2005). Developmentally sensitive measures of executive function in preschool children.
  12. (2004). Evaluating the theory of executive dysfunction in autism.
  13. (2005). Examining the relationship between executive functions and restricted, repetitive symptoms of autistic disorder.
  14. (1996). Executive functions and developmental psychopathology.
  15. (2005). Executive functions in children with communication impairments, in relation to autistic symptomatology.
  16. (2005). Executive functions in children with communication impairments, in relation to autistic symptomatology. II: Response inhibition.
  17. (1990). From neuropsychology to mental structure. New York:
  18. (2003). Helping Children Apply their Knowledge to their Behavior on a Dimension-Switching Task.
  19. (1991). Higher-order cognitive impairments and frontal lobe lesions. In:
  20. (2004). How specific are executive functioning deficits in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism?
  21. (1974). Infant and the child in the culture today.
  22. (1998). Inhibitory deficits in Tourette syndrome: A function of comorbidity and symptom severity.
  23. (2002). Magical thinking in childhood and adolescence: Development and relation to obsessive compulsion.
  24. (2000). On inhibition/disinhibition in developmental psychopathology: Views from cognitive and personality psychology and a working inhibition taxonomy.
  25. (2002). Prader-Willi syndrome, compulsive and ritualistic behaviours: the first population-based survey.
  26. (1994). Repetitive and compulsive behavior in frontal lobe degenerations.
  27. (1998). Repetitive behaviour disorders in autism.
  28. (2003). Ritual behaviour in children and mothers’ perceptions of family patterns.
  29. (1997). Ritual, habit and perfectionism: The prevalence and development of compulsive-like behaviour in normal young children.
  30. (2000). Standardization of the Contingency Naming Test for school-aged children: A new measure of reactive flexibility.
  31. (2001). The Flexible Item Selection Task (FIST): A measure of executive function in preschoolers.
  32. (1986). The frontal lobes.
  33. (2004). The Object Classification Task for Children (OCTC): A measure of concept generation and mental flexibility in early childhood.
  34. (1994). The relationship between cognition and action: Performance of 3.5-7 year olds on a Stroop-like day- night test.
  35. (2004). The relationship of theory of mind and executive functions to symptom type and severity in children with autism.
  36. (2004). The role of the orbitofrontal cortex in normally developing compulsive-like behaviours and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  37. (1997). The Shape School: Assessing executive function in preschool children.
  38. (2002). Theory of mind finds its Piagetian perspective: Why alternative naming comes with understanding belief.
  39. (1997). Towards an executive dysfunction account of repetitive behaviour in autism. In
  40. (1998). Trick or treat?: Uneven understanding of mind and emotion and executive dysfunction in “hard-to-manage” preschoolers.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.