Project Details

Aggressive Youth in Hong Kong: Subtypes, Neuropsychological Risk and Intervention

Exhibiting aggression in adolescence is associated with a wide array of negative outcomes including academic failure, social maladjustment, drug abuse and delinquency. One of the best candidates for explaining these associations is executive function (EF). EF often refers to a set of higher order cognitive control of thought, emotion and action, which is central to the onset and persistence of aggressive behavior. Although considerable research attention has focused on the relationships between EF and aggression, few have examined this link in high-aggressive adolescents, a group that is the least responsive to general intervention. Moreover, although research consistently demonstrated that cultural factors play a significant role in the manifestation of aggression, no research to date has examined the functional characteristics of Chinese high aggressive youth. Furthermore, aggression is heterogeneous in nature with distinct functions: 1) reactive aggression (RA), aggression reacting to trigger; 2) proactive aggression (PA), aggression that is instrumental in nature; and 3) their co-occurrence (PA+RA). Understanding the prevalence of each functional group among high aggressive youth and their associated EF profile is essential for differentiating the motivations and mechanisms contributing to the heterogeneity of aggression. Lastly, most studies examining the link between EF and aggression use exclusively cool EF task (the task involving pure logic and critical analysis), and neglect a new emerging construct, hot/affective EF (the task involving motivationally salient reward). Considering that the role of EF has promising implications for effective interventions measures for aggression, it is necessary to clarify how these distinct aspects of EF relate to various functions of aggression. The aims of this proposal are fivefold: 1) to examine the prevalence rate of each function of aggression (PA, RA, PA+RA) among aggressive adolescents in Hong Kong; 2) to examine the hot and cool EF profiles associated with each functional groups; 3) to examine whether the three groups of aggressive adolescents (PA, RA, PA+RA) exhibit hot and cool EF profiles that are similar to or different from their non-aggressive peers; 4) to examine the unique contribution of hot and cool EFs on level of aggression; and 5) to outline a computerized EF training protocol which targets remediating EF deficits identified with each functional groups. If funded, this proposed study will be the first to provide a complete picture of the functional descriptions and cognitive profile of high- aggressive youth in Hong Kong.

Commencement Date : 2018/9
Completion Date : 2020/3
Chief Investigator(s) : Dr POON, Kei Yan 潘紀恩 [SEC]
Keyword(s) : Adolescence   Proactive Aggression   Reactive Aggression   Executive Functions   Intervention  

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