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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00172

Articulation speaks to executive function: An investigation in 4-6 year-olds

  • 1Psychology, University of Lethbridge, Canada
  • 2Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Canada
  • 3Kinesiology, University of Lethbridge, Canada

Executive function and language learning play a prominent role in early childhood development. Empirical research continues to point to a concurrent relation between these two faculties. What has been given little attention however, is the association between executive function and speech articulation abilities in children. This study investigated this relation in children aged 4-6 years. Significant correlations indicated that children with better executive function (via parental report of the BRIEF inventory) exhibited stronger speech sound production abilities in the articulation of the “s” and “sh” sounds. Furthermore, regression analyses revealed that the Global Executive Composite (GEC) of executive function as measured by the BRIEF, served as a predictor for speech sound proficiency and that speech sound proficiency served as a predictor for the GEC. Together, these results demonstrate the imbricated nature of executive function and speech sound production while bearing theoretical and practical implications. From a theoretical standpoint, the close link between executive function and speech articulation may indicate a common ontogenetic pathway. From a practical perspective, the results suggest that children with speech difficulties could be at higher risk for executive function deficits.

Keywords: Speech articulation, Executive Function, BRIEF, fricative production, Cognition, Child Development, language development

Received: 04 Oct 2017; Accepted: 01 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Huei-Mei Liu, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan

Reviewed by:

Wanze Xie, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard University, United States
Stephanie Haft, University of California, San Francisco, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Netelenbos, Gibb, Li and Gonzalez. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Ms. Nicole Netelenbos, University of Lethbridge, Psychology, Lethbridge, Canada, nicole.netelenbos@uleth.ca