Verbal and nonverbal predictors of executive function in early childhood

Rebecca L. Stephens, Benjamin Langworthy, Sarah J. Short, Barbara D. Goldman, Jessica B. Girault, Jason P. Fine, J. Steven Reznick, John H. Gilmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The study of executive function (EF) has become increasingly popular in multiple areas of research. A wealth of evidence has supported the value of EF in shaping notable outcomes across typical and atypical development; however, little evidence has supported the cognitive contributors to early EF development. The current study used data from a large longitudinal sample of healthy children to investigate the differential influence of verbal and nonverbal cognition on later EF. Participants were assessed at 2 years of age using the Mullen Scales of Early Learning, and Mullen scores were used to calculate nonverbal and verbal developmental quotients. Executive function was measured at 6 years using assessments from the Stanford-Binet, Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery, and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function. Results suggested that early nonverbal cognition was a better predictor of 6-year EF as measured by task-based laboratory assessments, whereas verbal cognition was a better predictor of parent-reported EF. Findings are discussed in regard to EF development and characteristics of EF measurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-200
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Cognition and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (MH064065, MH070890, and HD053000 to Dr. Gilmore; T32-MH106440 to Dr. Stephens and Mr. Langworthy; T32-HD07376 to Ms. Girault; and K01-MH099411 to Dr. Short).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Taylor & Francis.


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