Applying an Integrative Framework of Executive Function to Preschoolers With Specific Language Impairment Purpose The first goal of this research was to compare verbal and nonverbal executive function abilities between preschoolers with and without specific language impairment (SLI). The second goal was to assess the group differences on 4 executive function components in order to determine if the components may be hierarchically related ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 16, 2017
Applying an Integrative Framework of Executive Function to Preschoolers With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Leah L. Kapa
    Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Elena Plante
    Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Kevin Doubleday
    Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Arizona, Tucson
  • 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 Leah L. Kapa: leahkapa@email.arizona.edu
  • Editor: Sean Redmond
    Editor: Sean Redmond×
  • Associate Editor: Geralyn Timler
    Associate Editor: Geralyn Timler×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 16, 2017
Applying an Integrative Framework of Executive Function to Preschoolers With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2017, Vol. 60, 2170-2184. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0027
History: Received January 21, 2016 , Revised May 26, 2016 , Accepted January 23, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2017, Vol. 60, 2170-2184. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0027
History: Received January 21, 2016; Revised May 26, 2016; Accepted January 23, 2017

Purpose The first goal of this research was to compare verbal and nonverbal executive function abilities between preschoolers with and without specific language impairment (SLI). The second goal was to assess the group differences on 4 executive function components in order to determine if the components may be hierarchically related as suggested within a developmental integrative framework of executive function.

Method This study included 26 4- and 5-year-olds diagnosed with SLI and 26 typically developing age- and sex-matched peers. Participants were tested on verbal and nonverbal measures of sustained selective attention, working memory, inhibition, and shifting.

Results The SLI group performed worse compared with typically developing children on both verbal and nonverbal measures of sustained selective attention and working memory, the verbal inhibition task, and the nonverbal shifting task. Comparisons of standardized group differences between executive function measures revealed a linear increase with the following order: working memory, inhibition, shifting, and sustained selective attention.

Conclusion The pattern of results suggests that preschoolers with SLI have deficits in executive functioning compared with typical peers, and deficits are not limited to verbal tasks. A significant linear relationship between group differences across executive function components supports the possibility of a hierarchical relationship between executive function skills.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant F32DC014188 to L. Kapa and Grant R21DC014203 to E. Plante.
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