The Contribution of Executive Functions to Emergent Mathematic Skills in Preschool Children

Kimberly Andrews Espy, Melanie M. McDiarmid, Mary F. Cwik, Melissa Meade Stalets, Arlena Hamby, Theresa E. Senn
2004 Developmental Neuropsychology  
Mathematical ability is related to both activation o f the prefrontal cortex in neuroimaging studies of adults and to executive functions in school-age children. The purpose ol'this study was to determine whether executive functions were related to emergent mathematical proficiency in preschool children. Preschool children (N= 96) w o e administered an executive flunction battery that was reduced empirically to working memory (WM), inhibitory control (IC), and shining abilities by calculating
more » ... mposite scores derived from principal component analysis. Both WM and IC predicted early arithmetic competency, with the observed relations robust after controlling stacistical1y for child age, maternal education, and child vocabulary. Only IC accounted for unique variance in mathematical skills, after the contribution of other executive functions were controlled statisticatly as well. Specific executive functions are related to emergent mathematical proficiency in this age range. Longitudinal studies using structural equation modeling are necessary to better characterizt these ontogenetic relations. Recent findings from Functional imaging studies in adults highlight the role of the prefiontal cortex in mathematical performance, particularly in actual mathematical calculation (Fullbright et al.
doi:10.1207/s15326942dn2601_6 pmid:15276905 fatcat:4nlprqqctjg3tiqnepn7crpnmu