The Relationship Between Executive Functions and Language Abilities in Children: A Latent Variables Approach Purpose We aimed to outline the latent variables approach for measuring nonverbal executive function (EF) skills in school-age children, and to examine the relationship between nonverbal EF skills and language performance in this age group. Method Seventy-one typically developing children, ages 8 through 11, participated in the study. ... Research Article
Newly Published
Research Article  |   March 17, 2017
The Relationship Between Executive Functions and Language Abilities in Children: A Latent Variables Approach
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Margarita Kaushanskaya
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Ji Sook Park
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Ishanti Gangopadhyay
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Meghan M. Davidson
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Susan Ellis Weismer
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • 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 Margarita Kaushanskaya: kaushanskaya@wisc.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Shelley Gray
    Associate Editor: Shelley Gray×
Article Information
Development / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Newly Published / Research Article
Research Article   |   March 17, 2017
The Relationship Between Executive Functions and Language Abilities in Children: A Latent Variables Approach
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0310
History: Received September 3, 2015 , Revised February 24, 2016 , Accepted August 9, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0310
History: Received September 3, 2015; Revised February 24, 2016; Accepted August 9, 2016

Purpose We aimed to outline the latent variables approach for measuring nonverbal executive function (EF) skills in school-age children, and to examine the relationship between nonverbal EF skills and language performance in this age group.

Method Seventy-one typically developing children, ages 8 through 11, participated in the study. Three EF components, inhibition, updating, and task-shifting, were each indexed using 2 nonverbal tasks. A latent variables approach was used to extract latent scores that represented each EF construct. Children were also administered common standardized language measures. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between EF and language skills.

Results Nonverbal updating was associated with the Receptive Language Index on the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–Fourth Edition (CELF-4). When composites denoting lexical–semantic and syntactic abilities were derived, nonverbal inhibition (but not shifting or updating) was found to predict children's syntactic abilities. These relationships held when the effects of age, IQ, and socioeconomic status were controlled.

Conclusions The study makes a methodological contribution by explicating a method by which researchers can use the latent variables approach when measuring EF performance in school-age children. The study makes a theoretical and a clinical contribution by suggesting that language performance may be related to domain-general EFs.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 DC011750 (awarded to Susan Ellis Weismer and Margarita Kaushanskaya) and National Institute on Child Health and Human Development Grant P30 HD03352 (awarded to Waisman Center, Marsha Mailick, PI). We are grateful to all of the families who participated in this study, as well as to the school administrators and teachers who generously helped us to recruit participants. We also would like to thank Milijana Buac, Megan Gross, Eileen Haebig, and Margarethe McDonald for their assistance with task design and their comments on the previous versions of this manuscript. Finally, we are grateful to Elizabeth Ales, Natalie Bowman, Nicole Compty, Kimberly Crespo, Kathryn Ficho, Sarah Jordan, Hailey Kuettner, Eva Lopez, Jessica Martalock, Elizabeth Mormer, Emily Murphy, Sarah Naumann, Stephanie Palm, Haliee Patel, Rachel Roman, Tina Shieh, and Lauren Utech for their assistance with data collection and coding.
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