The relationship between executive functioning and language: Examining vocabulary, syntax, and language learning in preschoolers attending Head Start.

Abstract

Early childhood marks a time of dynamic development within language and cognitive domains. Specifically, a body of research focuses on the development of language as related to executive functions, which are foundational cognitive skills that relate to both academic achievement and social-emotional development during early childhood and beyond. Although there is evidence to support the relationship between language and executive functions, existing studies focus mostly on vocabulary and fail to examine other components of language such as syntax and language learning skills. To address this gap, this study examined the relationship between executive functioning (EF) and three aspects of language: syntax, vocabulary, and language learning. A diverse sample of 182 children (67% Latino and 33% African American) attending Head Start were assessed on both EF and language ability. Findings demonstrated that EF related to a comprehensive latent construct of language composed of vocabulary, syntax, and language learning. EF also related to each individual component of language. This study furthers our understanding of the complex relationship between language and cognitive development by measuring EF as it relates to various components of language in a sample of preschoolers from low-income backgrounds.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.06.010

Cite this paper

@article{White2017TheRB, title={The relationship between executive functioning and language: Examining vocabulary, syntax, and language learning in preschoolers attending Head Start.}, author={Lisa J. White and Alexandra Alexander and Daryl B. Greenfield}, journal={Journal of experimental child psychology}, year={2017}, volume={164}, pages={16-31} }