Roles of attention shifting and inhibitory control in fourth-grade reading comprehension

Michael J. Kieffer, Rose K. Vukovic, Daniel Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Executive functioning (EF) refers to a set of higher order, core cognitive processes that facilitate planning, problem solving, and the initiation and maintenance of goal-directed behavior. Although recent research has established the importance of EF for word reading development in early childhood, few studies have investigated the role of EF in reading comprehension during middle childhood. This study investigated the relations between two specific dimensions of EF - attention shifting and inhibitory control - and reading comprehension for students in fourth grade (N = 120). Specifically, we used path analysis to investigate the direct, unique associations of attention shifting and inhibitory control with reading comprehension as well as the indirect associations with reading comprehension via language comprehension and word reading, controlling for working memory, processing speed, and phonological awareness. Results indicated that both attention shifting and inhibitory control demonstrated unique direct associations with reading comprehension. Attention shifting also demonstrated a significant indirect association via language comprehension. Findings support growing evidence for the importance of these EF dimensions to reading, raise questions about potential mechanisms underlying links between EF and reading comprehension, and offer implications for understanding and addressing reading comprehension difficulties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-348
Number of pages16
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


  • To learners in which of the following categories does your work apply?
  • X Childhood
  • X Comprehension
  • X Oral language
  • X Struggling learners

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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