Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 5-21-2019


Research has documented an advantage on executive functioning in bilingual compared to monolingual children, suggesting that bilingual children may develop inhibitory control earlier than their monolingual peers. There are no known studies examining the differences between monolingual and bilingual children who were born very low birth weight (VLBW). Children born VLBW are at greater risk for difficulties with attention and inhibition. Executive functioning abilities were measured at 3-4 years and at 5-7 years. Caregivers reported sociodemographic information. Bilingualism was measured by self-report and observation of unstructured mother-child play. Executive functioning abilities were measured using the Bear Dragon (inhibition and working memory 3-4 years), Memory for Location 2 (working memory 3-4 years), Gift Delay (inhibition 3-4 & 5-7 years), WJ-III Memory for Words (working memory 3-4 & 5-7 years), Color Form (inhibition and task switching 5-7 years), and the DCCS (inhibition and task switching 5-7 years). Children born normal birth weight (NBW) performed significantly better on tasks involving working memory (3-4 years), and inhibition (5-7years). Monolingual children born NBW performed better on tasks of working memory (3-4 years) and inhibition (5-7 years) compared to bilingual children born VLBW. Modest evidence for a bilingual (parent reported but not observational) advantage on one of three inhibition tasks (Gift Delay) emerged at school age (5-7 years). Children born NBW performed better on executive functioning measures beginning at the preschool age (3-4 years). Evidence for developmental differences between these groups helps to provide a broader understanding of the development of early executive processes.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Sarah Erickson

Second Committee Member

Jean Lowe

Third Committee Member

Steven Verney

Fourth Committee Member

Judy Ho




prematurity; bilingualism; executive functioning

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