The dimensional change card sort (DCCS) is an easily administered and widely used measure of executive function that is suitable for use with participants across a wide range of ages. In the standard version, children are required to sort a series of bivalent test cards, first according to one dimension (e.g., color), and then according to the other (e.g., shape). Most 3-year-olds perseverate during the post-switch phase, exhibiting a pattern of inflexibility similar to that seen in patients with prefrontal cortical damage. By 5 years of age, most children switch when instructed to do so. Performance on the DCCS provides an index of the development of executive function, and it is impaired in children with disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism. We describe the protocol for the standard version (duration = 5 min) and the more challenging border version (duration = 5 min), which may be used with children as old as 7 years.
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Preparation of this article was supported, in part, by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and by a Canada Research Chair. Many individuals have been involved the creation and refinement of the DCCS and its many versions, but the author would like to acknowledge in particular the valuable contributions of D. Frye and T. Palfai, co-authors of the article in which the protocol was first described.
The author declares no competing financial interests.
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Zelazo, P. The Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS): a method of assessing executive function in children. Nat Protoc 1, 297–301 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/nprot.2006.46
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