Efficiency of Executive Functions and Literacy Among Children With Specific Language Impairment

Open access


Recently, extensive studies investigating executive functions in children with specific language impairment (SLI) have been performed. In the present study, we compared the level of executive functions (i.e., inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility) and literacy skills between 53 healthy children and 53 children with SLIs between the ages of 3 and 11 years. The groups were matched by age, gender and parental education level. Executive functions were assessed using the Children Card Sort, and the Literacy Assessment Battery was applied to measure literacy skills. The patients with SLI displayed a significantly lower level of cognitive flexibility than that of the healthy children. No significant differences were observed between the groups in inhibitory control and the majority of literacy skills. The results confirm the hypothesis that patients with SLI experience difficulties in cognitive flexibility.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Baddeley A. D. & Hitch G. (1974). Working memory. In G.H. Bower (Ed.) The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory. 8 47-89. New York NY: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/S0079-7421(08)60452-1

  • Barkley R. A. (1997). Inhibition sustained attention and executive functions: Constructing a unified theory of ADHD. Psychology Bulletin 121 5-94. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.121.1.65

  • Beswick J. F. & Sloat E. A. (2006). Early literacy success: A matter of social justice. Education Canada 46(2) 23-26.

  • Bishop D. V. (2006). What Causes Specific Language Impairment in Children? Current Directions in Psychological Science 15(5) 217-221. doi: 10.1111/ j.1467-8721.2006.00439.x

  • Bishop D.V. & Norbury C.F. (2005). Executive functions in children with communication impairments in relation to autistic symptomatology. 2: Response inhibition. Autism 9 (1) 29-43. doi: 10.1177/136236130504 9028 Blair C. & Razza R. P. (2007). Relating effortful control executive function and false belief understanding to emerging math and literacy ability in kindergarten. Child Development 78(2) 647-663. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01019.x

  • Botting N. Jones A. Marshall C. Denmark T. Atkinson J. & Morgan G. (2017) Nonverbal Executive Function is Mediated by Language: A Study of Deaf and Hearing Children. Child Development 88. 1689-1700. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12659

  • Chan R. C. Shum D. Toulopoulou T. & Chen E. Y. (2008). Assessment of executive functions: Review of instruments and identification of critical issues. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology 23(2) 201-216. doi: 10.10 16/j.acn.2007.08.010

  • Clark C. A. Sheffield T. D. Wiebe S. A. & Espy K. A. (2013). Longitudinal associations between executive control and developing mathematical competence in preschool boys and girls. Child Development 84(2) 662-677. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01854.x

  • Conti-Ramsden G. Bishop D. V. M. Clark B. Norbury C. F. & Snowling M. J. (2014). Specific language impairment (SLI): The internet RALLI campaign to raise awareness of SLI. Psychology of Language and Communication 18(2) 143-148. doi: 10.2478/plc-2014-0011

  • Conti-Ramsden G. Mok P. L. Pickles A. & Durkin K. (2013). Adolescents with a history of specific language impairment (SLI): Strengths and difficulties in social emotional and behavioral functioning. Research In Developmental Disabilities 34(11) 4161-4169. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd. 2013.08.043

  • Cuevas K. Deater-Deckard K. Kim-Spoon J. Watson A. J. Morasch. K. C. & Bell M. A. (2014). What's mom got to do with it? Contributions of maternal executive function and caregiving to the development of executive function across early childhood. Developmental Science 17(2) 224-238. doi: 10.1111/desc.12073

  • Cumming R. Wilson A. & Goswami U. (2015). Basic auditory processing and sensitivity to prosodic structure in children with specific language impairments: A new look at a perceptual hypothesis. Frontiers in Psychology 10(6) 972. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00972

  • Diamond A. (2013). Executive Functions. Annual Review of Psychology 64 135-168. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143750

  • Doebel S. & Zelazo P. D. (2016). Seeing conflict and engaging control: Experience with contrastive language benefits executive function in preschoolers. Cognition 157 2019-226. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2016. 09.010

  • Espy K. A. Kaufmann P. M. Glisky M. L. & McDiarmid M. D. (2001). New procedures to assess executive functions in preschool children. Clinical Neuropsychologist 15(1) 46-58. doi: 10.1076/clin.

  • Farrant B.M. Maybery M.T. & Fletcher J. (2012). Language Cognitive Flexibility and Explicit False Belief Understanding: Longitudinal Analysis in Typical Development and Specific Language Impairment. Child Development 83(1) 223-235. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011. 01681.x

  • Flapper B.C. & Schoemaker M.M. (2013). Developmental coordination disorder in children with specific language impairment: Comorbidity and impact on quality of life. Research in Developmental Disabilities 34(2) 756-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2012.10.014

  • Frye D. Zelazo P. D. & Burack J. A. (1998). I. Cognitive complexity and control: Implications for theory of mind in typical and atypical development. Current Directions in Psychological Science 7 116-121.

  • Gathercole S. E. Adams A. M. & Hitch G. J. (1994). Do young children rehearse? An individual differences analysis. Memory & Cognition 22(2) 201-207.

  • Hansen B. B. & Klopfer S.O. (2006). Optimal full matching and related designs via network flows. Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics 15 609-627. doi: 10.1198/106186006X137047

  • Henry L. A. Messer D. J. & Nash G. (2012). Executive functioning in children with specific language impairment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 53(1) 37-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02430.x

  • Horowitz-Kraus T. & Finucane S. (2016). Separating the different domains of reading intervention programs: A review. SAGE Open 6(2) 1-26.

  • Im-Bolter N. Johnson J. & Pascual-Leone J. (2006). Processing limitations in children with specific language impairment: The role of executive function. Child Development 77 1822-1841. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624. 2006.00976.x

  • Isoaho P. Kauppila T. and Launonen K. (2015). Specific language impairment (SLI) and reading development in early school years. Child Language Teaching and Therapy 32(2) 147-157.

  • Jabłoński S. (2002). Written speech development: A cultural-historical approach to the process of reading and writing ability acquisition. Psychology of Language and Communication 6(2) 53-64.

  • Jabłoński S. (2013). Inhibitory control and literacy development among 3-to 5-year-old children. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature 13 1-25.

  • Jabłoński S. (2015). Assessment of literacy development from cultural-historical perspective. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 8(1) 133-146.

  • Jabłoński S. Kaczmarek I. Kaliszewska-Czeremska K. & Zakrzewska M. (2013). Sortowanie kart jako metoda badania giętkości poznawczej u dzieci w wieku 3-8 lat [Card sorting as a method for cognitive flexibility assessment in 3 to 8 years old children]. Edukacja 1(121) 54-72.

  • Jabłoński S. Kaczmarek I. & Kleka P. (in press). Test Sortowania Kart dla Dzieci - podręcznik [Children Card Sort - manual]. Gdańsk: Pracownia Testów Psychologicznych i Pedagogicznych.

  • Jabłoński S. & Kleka P. (2015). Pomiar rozwoju mowy pisanej jako nowa propozycja oceny poziomu umiejętności posługiwania się pismem u dzieci w wieku 3-11 lat [Assessment of written speech development as a new proposal of literacy assessment in children aged 3-11 years]. Polskie Forum Psychologiczne 20(3) 380-408.

  • Jacobson L. A. Williford A. P. & Pianta R. C. (2011). The role of executive function in children's competent adjustment to middle school. Child Neuropsychology 17(3) 255-280. doi: 10.1080/09297049.2010.53 5654

  • Jaworowska A. & Szustrowa T. (2011). Test matryc Ravena w wersji kolorowej. Formy: Klasyczna i równoległa. Podręcznik. Warszawa: Pracownia Testów Psychologicznych Polskiego Towarzystwa Psychologicznego.

  • Jodzio K. (2008). Neuropsychologia intencjonalnego działania. Koncepcje funkcji wykonawczych. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar.

  • Kapa L. L. & Plante E. (2015). Executive function in SLI: Recent advances and future directions. Current Developmental Disorders Reports 2(3) 245-252. doi: 10.1007/s40474-015-0050-x

  • Kwieciński Z. (2002). Nieuniknione?: Funkcje alfabetyzacji w dorosłości [Unavoidable?: The role of alphabetization in adulthood]. Toruń: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika; Olsztyn: Uniwersytet Warmińsko-Mazurski.

  • Leonard L. B. (2014). Children with Specific Language Impairment. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

  • Leonard L. B. Deevy P. Fey M. E. & Bredin-Oje S. L. (2013). Sentence comprehension in specific language impairment: A task designed to distinguish between cognitive capacity and syntactic complexity. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 56 577-589. doi: 10.1044/ 1092-4388(2012/11-0254)

  • Li N. & Bartlett C. W. (2012). Defining the genetic architecture of human developmental language impairment. Life Sciences 90(13-14) 469-475. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2012.01.016

  • Lindstone J. S. Meins E. & Fernyhough C. (2012). Verbal mediation of cognition in children with specific language impairment. Developmental Psychopathology 24(2) 651-660. doi: 10.1017/S0954579412000223

  • Lukács Á. Ladányi E. Fazekas K. & Kemény F. (2016). Executive functions and the contribution of short-term memory span in children with specific language impairment. Neuropsychology 30(3) 296-303. doi: 10.1037/ neu0000232

  • Marton K. (2008). Visuo-spatial processing and executive functions in children with specific language impairment. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders 43(2) 181-200. doi: 10.1080/16066350701340719

  • Marton K. Campanelli L. Scheuer J. Yoon J. & Eichorn N. (2012) Executive function profiles in children with and without specific language impairment. Journal of Applied Psycholinguistics 12 57-73.

  • Mayes A. K. Reilly S. Morgan A. T. (2015). Neural correlates of childhood language disorder: A systematic review. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 57 706-717. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.12714

  • McLaughlin M. R. (2011). Speech and language delay in children. American Family Physician 83(10) 1183-1188.

  • Miller C. Kail R. Leonard L. & Tomblin J. B. (2001). Speed of processing in children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 44 416-433.

  • Miyake A. Friedman N.P. Emerson M.J Witzki A. H Howerter. A. & Wager. T. D. (2000). The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex "Frontal Lobe" tasks: A latent variable analysis. Cognitive Psychology 41(1)49 -100. doi10.1006/cogp.1999. 0734

  • Molfese V. J. Molfese P. J. Molfese D. L. Rudasill K. M. Armstrong N. & Starkey G. (2010). Executive function skills of 6 to 8 year olds: Brain and behavioral evidence and implications for school achievement. Contemporary Educational Psychology 35(2) 116-125. doi: 10.1016/j. cedpsych.2010.03.004

  • Montgomery J. W. Magimairaj B. M. & Finney M. C. (2010). Working Memory and Specific Language Impairment: An Update on the Relation and Perspectives on Assessment and Treatment. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 19(1) 78-94. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360 (2009/09-0028)

  • O'Hare A. & Bremner L. (2016). Management of developmental speech and language disorders: Part 1. Archives of Disease in Childhood 101(3) 272-277. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2014-307394

  • Pauls L. J. & Archibald L. M. (2016). Executive functions in children with specific language impairment: A meta-analysis. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 59(5) 1074-1086. doi: 10.1044/2016_ JSLHR-L-15-0174

  • Petruccelli N. Bavin E. L. & Bretherton L. (2012). Children with specific language impairment and resolved late talkers: Working memory profiles at 5 years. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 55(6) 1690-1703. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0288)

  • R Core Team (2017). R: A language and environment for statistical computing R Foundation for Statistical Computing Vienna Austria. https://www.R-project.org/.

  • Rice M. L. (2013). Language growth and genetics of specific language impairment. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 15(3) 223-233. doi: 10.3109/17549507.2013.783113

  • Redmond S. M. & Rice M. L. (1998). The socioemotional behaviors of children with SLI: Social Adaptation or Social Deviance? Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 41(3) 688-700.

  • Shriberg L. D. Tomblin J. B. & McSweeny J. L. (1999). Prevalence of speech delay in 6-year-old children and comorbidity with language impairment. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 42(6) 1461-1481. doi: 10.1044/jslhr.4206.1461

  • Spaulding T. J. (2010). Investigating mechanisms of suppression in preschool children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 53 725-738. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2009/ 09-0041)

  • Tarkowski Z. (1992). Test Sprawności Językowej. Lublin: Wydawnictwo Polskiej Fundacji Zaburzeń Mowy.

  • Tomblin J. B. Records N. L. Buckwalter P. Zhang X. Smith E. & O'Brien M. (1997). Prevalence of specific language impairment in kindergarten children. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 40(6) 1245-1260.

  • Vissers C. Koolen S. Hermans D. Scheper A. & Knoors H. (2015). Executive functioning in preschoolers with specific language impairment. Frontiers in Psychology 6 1574. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01574

  • Weismer S. E. (2013). Developmental Language Disorders: Challenges and mplications of Cross-Group Comparisons. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica 65 (2): 68-77. doi: 10.1159/00035389

  • Williams G. J. Larkin R. F. Blaggan S. (2013). Written language skills in children with specific language impairment. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 48(2) 160-171. doi: 10.1111/ 1460-6984.12010

  • World Health Organization. (1992). The ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural dis-orders: Clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines. Geneva: WHO

  • Zelazo P. D. (2006). The Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS): A method of assessing executive function in children. Nature Protocols 1 297-301. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2006.46

  • Zelazo P. D. Frye D. & Rapus T. (1996). An age-related dissociation between knowing rules and using them. Cognitive Development 11 37-63. doi: 10.1016/S0885-2014(96)90027-1

  • Zelazo P. D. Mueller U. Frye D. & Marcovitch S. (2003). The development of executive function in early childhood. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 68 1-137.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.29

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.118
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.410

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 434 286 17
PDF Downloads 315 202 12