The Relationship Between Preschool Executive Function Skills and Oral Narrative Skills By: Kathleen Trainor
What are Executive Functions? • High-Order Cognitive Operations • Cognitive Processes • Attention • Inhibition • Working Memory • Components • Goal Selection • Planning/Organizing • Initiation/Persistence • Flexibility • Execution/Goal Attainment • Self-Regulation
Development of Executive Functions • Birth to mid-20s • Preschool Executive Function Development • Attentional Control • Cognitive Flexibility • Information Processing • Goal Setting
Executive Function Development In Preschoolers Senn, Espy, and Kaufmann (2004) • 117 children: ages 2;8 – 6;0 • 4 executive function tasks measuring underlying cognitive processes and early EF components: • Working memory (Delayed alternation task) • Inhibition (Shape School) • Flexibility (Spatial Reversal) • Problem solving/planning (Tower of Hanoi) • Path analysis used to identify correlation between these skills • Results: • Correlation between working memory and inhibition • Working memory and inhibition were interpreted as key skills necessary for early problem solving • NO correlation was found between early flexibility and early problem-solving/planning skills
Executive Function Development in Preschoolers Isquith, Gioia, and Espy (2004) • Authors previously developed the BRIEF, a rating scale of observable EF behaviors in children ages 5-18. • Within BRIEF, EF behaviors converged onto 5 components: • Inhibition, Shifting, Emotional Control, Working Memory, & Planning/ Organizing • Development of preschool EF rating: • 201 children, ages 2-5 years • Ratings of preschool children’s EF behavior by parents and teachers • Results: • 5 EF components found in the BRIEF, converged into only 3 within the BRIEF-Preschool: • Inhibition/Inhibitory self control index, Flexibility Index, and Emergent Metacognition Index • Metacognitive abilities were poorly differentiated
Executive Functions (& Language)Carlson, Davis, and Leach (2005) • 101 typically developing children ages3- and 4-years old • PPVT-3 • “Less is More” task • Ability to inhibit initial response while holding rules in mind • Altered pictures in order to establish importance of symbolic representation on inhibitory skills • Results: • Significant correlation between Less is More task and PPVT-3 • 3-year-olds were significantly less accurate in inhibiting initial response, in comparison to 4-year olds
Executive Functions (& Language)Carlson (2005) • 602 children, ages: 1;10 – 6;11 • 24 executive function tasks • Primarily inhibition and working memory • PPVT-3 • Examined developmental progression inhibition and working memory • Associated with expected language development • Results: • Significant relationship between scores on the PPVT-3 and number of EF tasks the children passed. • Performance onmajority of tasks showed significant age-related improvement on inhibitory and working memory skills • Most difficult tasks for all age groups were those which combined inhibitory and working memory demands
Research Questions • What is the relationship between receptive vocabulary skills as measured by the PPVT and executive functions as measured by the parental report on the BRIEF–P ? • What is the relationship between language skills in narrative form obtained from the Renfrew Bus Story and executive functions as measured by the parental report on the BRIEF–P?
Subjects • 19 preschool children: 12 male; 7 female • Ages 4;3 to 5;3. Mean=4;10 • Not previously diagnosed with a language disorder • Attending a private preschool in Central Illinois
Assessment Tools • Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4 • Receptive language • Renfrew Bus Story • Story retelling task: oral narrative • Informational Content • Sentence Length • Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Functions – Preschool edition • Parents’ rating of executive function ability • Inhibitory Self-control Index – ISCI • Flexibility Index – FI • Emergent Metacognition Index – EMI • Global Executive Composite – GEC • T-scores of 65 and above indicate clinical significance/area of concern
Results SS<85= clinical significance T Score >65= clinical significance
Relationship between PPVT and Renfrew Bus Story * Significant correlation at .05 level
Relationship between PPVT and BRIEF-P Parent No significant correlations
Relationship between Renfrew Bus Story and BRIEF-P Parent *significant correlation at .05 level **significant correlation at .01 level
Discussion • Compared to past studies: • Did not find significant correlations w/PPVT and EF, as Carlson and Carlson et. al did in the past. • However did find correlations between oral narrative language skills and executive function behavior, particularly for the EF components of working memory and planning. • Interpretations/Implications • Functional language tasks, such as story telling and discourse, require not only basic language skills, but also executive function skills such as inhibitory control, working memory, flexibility, and planning. • Limitations • Small sample size • Future Research • Extend to larger sample size of preschool and school-aged children. • Extend analysis to encompass children with various types of language disorders • Consider means of identifying profiles of emerging EF skills relative to developing language skills.
References • Anderson, P. (2002). Assessment and development of executive function (EF) during childhood. Child Neuropsychology, 8, 71-82. • Anderson, V. A., Anderson, P., Northam, E., Jacobs, R., & Catroppa, C. (2001). Development of executive functions through late childhood and adolescence in and australian sample. Developmental Neuropsychology, 20, 385-406. • Carlson, S. (2005). Developmentally sensitive measures of executive function in preschool children. Developmental Neuropsychology, 28(2), 595-616. • Carlson, S., Davis, A., & Leach, J. (2005). Less is more: executive function and symbolic representation in preschool children. Psychological Science, 16(8), 609-616. • Dawson, P., & Guare, R. (2004). Executive skills in children and adolescents. New York: The Guilford Press. • Dunn, L., & Dunn, D. (Ed.). (2007). Peabody picture vocabulary test, fourth edition. Minneapolis, MN: Pearson Assessments.
References • Gioia, G., Espy, K., & Isquith, P. (Ed.). (2003). Behavior rating inventory of executive function - preschool version. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.. • Glasgow, C., & Cowley, J. (1994). Renfrew Bus Story test - North American Edition. Centreville, DE: Centreville School. • Isquith, P., Gioia, G., & Espy, K. (2004). Executive function in preschool children: Examination through everyday behavior. Developmental Neuropsychology, 26(1), 403-422. • Jurado, M. B., & Rosselli, M. (2007). The elusive nature of executive functions: A review of our current understanding. Neuropsychology Review, 17, 213-233. doi:10.1007/s11065-0079040-z • Richard, G. J., & Fahy, J. K. (2005). The source for development of executive functions. East Moline, Illinois: Linguisystems. • Senn, T., Espy, K., & Kaufmann, P. (2004). Using path analysis to understand executive function organization in preschool children. Developmental Neuropsychology, 26(1), 445-464. • Stuss, D. T., & Alexander, M. P. (2000). Executive functions and the frontal lobes: A conceptual view. Psychological Research, 63, 289-298.