Language Proficiency in Preschool Children with Different Levels of Executive Function

Aleksander N. Veraksa, Darya A. Bukhalenkova, Maria S. Kovyazina
2018 Psychology in Russia: State of Art  
Background. According to numerous studies, people's development of executive function is a predictor of their successful acquisition of literacy skills. However, the data on the relationship between the development of verbal language and executive function in preschool aged children are insufficient and contradictory. Objective. The goal of our research was to study the connection between the three main EF components (working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility) and various spoken
more » ... various spoken language skills in children of senior preschool age. It is the first stage of a longitudinal study aimed at understanding the relationship between executive function and language development starting from ages 5-6, and proceeding through elementary school. Design. Our study sample included 279 children aged 5-6 years (M = 5.6 years) attending a senior group in Moscow kindergartens (139 boys and 140 girls). The study used NEPSY-II diagnostic complex subtests and the Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS) test to measure the level of executive functions (working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibition). Language development (vocabulary, phonemic awareness, and word generation) was measured by neuropsychological methods (Akhutina, Pylaeva, 2015) . Results. The results of the study showed significant associations between all EF components and language skills development in preschool children. Oral language skills were more closely related to the level of development of verbal working memory and cognitive flexibility than they were to inhibition or visual working memory. Children with low levels of EF development were significantly less able to cope with tasks such as understanding prepositional structures, understanding similar sounding words, and showing verbal fluency, than children with a high EF level. Furthermore, children with normal and high levels of EF development displayed no significant differences in language development. Thus, the study showed that children with a low level of EF have difficulties with language development. Conclusion. Our results provide important details about understanding the relationship between executive functioning and language development in children of senior preschool age.
doi:10.11621/pir.2018.0408 fatcat:lsgoi5nqlbadnek274l7ubpbpm