Executive Function in Preschoolers with Primary Language Impairment Purpose The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether preschoolers with primary language impairment (PLI) show deficits in executive function (EF) compared with their peers with typical development (TD) when inhibition, updating, and mental-set shifting are examined using both linguistically based and visually based tasks. Method Twenty-two ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2017
Executive Function in Preschoolers with Primary Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Hui-Chun Yang
    Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Shelley Gray
    Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Hui-Chun Yang, who is now at National Taipei University of Nursing Health Sciences, Taiwan: hcyang@ntunhs.edu.tw
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Lizbeth Finestack
    Associate Editor: Lizbeth Finestack×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2017
Executive Function in Preschoolers with Primary Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2017, Vol. 60, 379-392. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0267
History: Received July 31, 2015 , Revised February 25, 2016 , Accepted May 24, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2017, Vol. 60, 379-392. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0267
History: Received July 31, 2015; Revised February 25, 2016; Accepted May 24, 2016

Purpose The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether preschoolers with primary language impairment (PLI) show deficits in executive function (EF) compared with their peers with typical development (TD) when inhibition, updating, and mental-set shifting are examined using both linguistically based and visually based tasks.

Method Twenty-two 4- and 5-year-old preschoolers with PLI and 30 preschoolers with TD completed 2 sets of computerized EF tasks: 3 that were linguistically based and 3 that were visually based. This permitted us to test the hypothesis that poor performance on EF tasks in preschoolers with PLI results from impaired language rather than impaired EF.

Results The PLI group scored significantly lower than the TD group on linguistically and visually based updating tasks and mental-set shifting tasks. The PLI and TD groups did not differ significantly for accuracy or response time on linguistically and visually based inhibition tasks.

Conclusion Results suggest that preschool-age children with PLI have domain-general EF deficits in updating and mental-set shifting but not inhibition deficits, as measured by our tasks.

Acknowledgments
We thank the children and schools who participated in this study; members of the Child Language and Literacy Lab for their contributions; and Drs. Samuel Green, Tamiko Azuma, and Laida Restrepo for their reviews of this work.
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