Using an epidemiological sample (N = 1,117) and a prospective longitudinal design, this study tested the direct and indirect effects of preverbal and verbal communication (15 months to 3 years) on executive function (EF) at age 4 years. Results indicated that whereas gestures (15 months), as well as language (2 and 3 years), were correlated with later EF (φs ≥ .44), the effect was entirely mediated through later language. In contrast, language had significant direct and indirect effects on later EF. Exploratory analyses indicated that the pattern of results was comparable for low- and not-low-income families. The results were consistent with theoretical accounts of language as a precursor of EF ability, and highlighted gesture as an early indicator of EF.
© 2014 Taylor & Francis. Previous research has shown that early and late bilinguals differ in their language learning experiences and linguistic outcomes. However, evidence of differences between these bilinguals on measures of executive function (EF) has been mixed. As a result, the current study sought to (1) determine whether early and late bilinguals vary from one another and (2) exhibit cognitive advantages in EF relative to monolinguals. One hundred and five participants (42 monolinguals, 40 early bilinguals and 23 late bilinguals) completed the study. Participants' EF skills were assessed using the Auditorily Cued Number Numeral Task. Overall, the results did not reveal clear advantages for the early bilinguals compared to the two other groups. In fact, early bilinguals and monolinguals were equivalent in their performance on the EF task, whereas the late bilinguals were less accurate, relative to the other two groups. The differences in the performance of early and late bilinguals are discussed in terms of the competition model of secondlanguage learning proposed in previous research. Taken together, these findings indicate that individual differences in EF influence the observed differences found in EF across language groups.
© 2014 The Authors. Child Development © 2014 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. Using an epidemiological sample (N = 1,117) and a prospective longitudinal design, this study tested the direct and indirect effects of preverbal and verbal communication (15 months to 3 years) on executive function (EF) at age 4 years. Results indicated that whereas gestures (15 months), as well as language (2 and 3 years), were correlated with later EF (ϕs ≥.44), the effect was entirely mediated through later language. In contrast, language had significant direct and indirect effects on later EF. Exploratory analyses indicated that the pattern of results was comparable for low- and not-low-income families. The results were consistent with theoretical accounts of language as a precursor of EF ability, and highlighted gesture as an early indicator of EF.
The goal of the current study was to examine the relationship between oral language skills, measure through narratives, and reading development in African American and Caucasian children. In particular, we were interested in determining whether differences were evident in the use of decontentxtualized language, specifically LLFs, in AA and Caucasian children from the same classroom. The study also explored relations amongst children’s use of LLFs and their scores on a standardized vocabulary measure and reading assessment. The findings revealed that, as predicted, differences were evident between AA and Caucasian children’s use of LLFs in their narratives, consistent with previous research documenting cultural differences in oral narrative traditions.
The relationship between language development and executive function (EF) in children is not well understood. The Lexical Stroop Sort (LSS) task is a computerized EF task created for the purpose of examining the relationship between school-aged children's oral language development and EF. To validate this new measure, a diverse sample of school-aged children completed standardized oral language assessments, the LSS task, and the widely used Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS; Zelazo, 2006) task. Both EF tasks require children to sort stimuli into categories based on predetermined rules. While the DCCS largely relies on visual stimuli, the LSS employs children's phonological loop to access their semantic knowledge base. Accuracy and reaction times were recorded for both tasks. Children's scores on the LSS task were correlated with their scores on the DCCS task, and a similar pattern of relationships emerged between children's vocabulary and the two EF tasks, thus providing convergent validity for the LSS. However, children's phonological awareness was associated with their scores on the LSS, but not with those on the DCCS. In addition, a mediation model was used to elucidate the predictive relationship between phonological awareness and children's performance on the LSS task, with children's vocabulary fully mediating this relationship. The use of this newly created and validated LSS task with different populations, such as preschoolers and bilinguals, is also discussed.
Young infants actively gather information about their world through visual foraging, but the dynamics of this important behavior is poorly understood, partly because developmental scientists have often equated its essential components, looking and attending. Here we describe a method for simultaneously tracking spatial attention to fixated and nonfixated locations during free looking in 12-week-old infants using steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs). Using this method, we found that the sequence of locations an infant inspects during free looking reflects a momentary bias away from locations that were recently the target of covert attention, quickly followed by the redirection of attention - in advance of gaze - to the next target of fixation. The result is a pattern of visual foraging that is likely to support efficient exploration of complex environments by facilitating the inspection of new locations in real time.
The relationship between consistency of hand preference, left hemispheric specialization, and cognitive functioning was examined in an ongoing longitudinal investigation. Children were classified as consistent or inconsistent in their hand preference across 5 assessments from ages 18 to 42 months. Findings demonstrated that (a) this early classification continued to reveal differences in cognitive functioning from 10 to 17 years but only for girls, (b) consistent girls' performances were continually higher relative to the inconsistent girls on measures of verbal intelligence and reading achievement, (c) differences between the female groups were specifically related to left-hemispheric language specialization, and (d) one factor influencing the consistent girls' development may be the amount of reading exposure received during infancy.
Eagly's social role theory (Eagly and Steffen 1984) was tested examining children's gender role stereotypes via implicit information processing and memory measures. We explored whether children's occupational stereotypes were less restrictive for females who engaged in counterstereotypic occupations (Mary-Doctor) compared to males who engaged in counterstereotypic occupations (Henry-Nurse). Fifty-seven American eight- and nine-year-olds from a southwestern city were orally presented with stereotypic male and female names paired with masculine and feminine occupations and asked to create sentences using the name-occupation pairs. We conducted analyses of the created sentences as well as tested children's memories for the various pairings. Consistent with social role theory, the findings revealed that children's gender role stereotypes were more restrictive for males, than for females. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
We tested hearing 6- and 10-month-olds' ability to discriminate among three American Sign Language (ASL) parameters (location, handshape, and movement) as well as a grammatical marker (facial expression). ASL-naïve infants were habituated to a signer articulating a two-handed symmetrical sign in neutral space. During test, infants viewed novel two-handed signs that varied in only one parameter or in facial expression. Infants detected changes in the signer's facial expression and in the location of the sign but provided no evidence of detecting the changes in handshape or movement. These findings are consistent with children's production errors in ASL and reveal that infants can distinguish among some parameters of ASL more easily than others. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
English-learning toddlers of 21 and 22 months were taught a novel spatial word for four actions resulting in a tight-fit spatial relation, a relation that is lexically marked in Korean but not English (Choi & Bowerman, 1991). Toddlers in a control condition viewed the same tight-fit action events without the novel word. Toddlers' comprehension of the novel word was tested in a preferential-looking paradigm. Across four videotaped pairs of action events, a tight-fit event was paired with a loose-fit event. Only toddlers who were taught the novel spatial word looked significantly longer at the tight-fit events during the test trials that presented the novel word than during control trials that presented neutral linguistic stimuli. The results indicate that toddlers can map and generalize a novel word onto actions resulting in a tight-fit relation, given limited experience with the novel word. The results provide insight into how young word learners begin to form language-specific semantic spatial categories. Copyright © 2006 SAGE Publications.
This study explored 14-month-old infants' ability to form novel word-spatial relation associations. During habituation, infants heard 1 novel word (e.g., teek) while viewing dynamic containment events (i.e., Big Bird placed in a box) and, on other habituation trials, a second novel word (e.g., blick) while viewing dynamic support events (i.e., Big Bird placed on the box). Each novel word was presented in a sentence (e.g., "She's putting Big Bird teek the box"). During the test, infants discriminated an event that maintained the habituation word-relation pairing from one that presented a switch in this pairing. The results indicate that 14-month-olds can learn to form word-relation associations quickly, requiring only a few minutes of experience with each word-relation pairing. Copyright © 2004, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
This study explored 14-month-old infants' ability to form novel word-spatial relation associations. During habituation, infants heard 1 novel word (e.g., teek) while viewing dynamic containment events (i.e., Big Bird placed in a box) and, on other habituation trials, a second novel word (e.g., blick) while viewing dynamic support events (i.e., Big Bird placed on the box). Each novel word was presented in a sentence (e.g., "She's putting Big Bird teek the box"). During the test, infants discriminated an event that maintained the habituation word-relation pairing from one that presented a switch in this pairing. The results indicate that 14-month-olds can learn to form word-relation associations quickly, requiring only a few minutes of experience with each word-relation pairing. Copyright Â© 2004, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Although converging evidence suggests that bilinguals may be bicultural, questions remain about the mechanisms underlying the relationship between language, culture, and cognition. Some research shows that bilinguals possess dual cognitive frameworks, whereas others underscore the importance of the socio-cultural environment in which bilingualism emerges. By adapting a traditional switching paradigm, we explored differences within individuals in cultural processing and memory as a function of language. We examined the narratives of two groups of Indian bilinguals, Tamil bilinguals and Hindi bilinguals. Results revealed that language impacts code-switching, memory, and narrative differentially for Hindi and Tamil bilinguals. In terms of memory, Tamil bilinguals were more accurate in their recall than Hindi bilinguals. Furthermore, Hindi and Tamil bilinguals displayed evaluations differentially in their storytelling as means to convey their own perspectives. Hindi bilinguals used more intensifiers in Hindi than in English. Tamil bilinguals, however, provided moral evaluations only in their Tamil narratives. Thus, through our examination of a less studied bilingual population, we were able to demonstrate that bilinguals are bicultural and both dual cognitive frameworks and the socio-cultural practices influence bilingual language use and cognition.