Early communicative gestures prospectively predict language development and executive function in early childhood

Laura J. Kuhn, Michael T. Willoughby, Makeba Parramore Wilbourn, Lynne Vernon-Feagans, Clancy B. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Using an epidemiological sample (N = 1,117) and a prospective longitudinal design, this study tested the direct and indirect effects of preverbal and verbal communication (15 months to 3 years) on executive function (EF) at age 4 years. Results indicated that whereas gestures (15 months), as well as language (2 and 3 years), were correlated with later EF (ϕs ≥.44), the effect was entirely mediated through later language. In contrast, language had significant direct and indirect effects on later EF. Exploratory analyses indicated that the pattern of results was comparable for low- and not-low-income families. The results were consistent with theoretical accounts of language as a precursor of EF ability, and highlighted gesture as an early indicator of EF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1898-1914
Number of pages17
JournalChild development
Volume85
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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