Language and executive functioning: Children’s benefit from induced verbal strategies in different tasks

Fatzer, Simone T.; Roebers, Claudia M. (2013). Language and executive functioning: Children’s benefit from induced verbal strategies in different tasks. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 3(1), pp. 1-9. Canadian Center of Science and Education 10.5539/jedp.v3n1p1

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The interplay of language and cognition in children’s development has been subject to research for a long time. The present study followed up on recently reported deleterious effects of articulatory suppression on children’s executive functioning (Fatzer & Roebers, 2012), aiming to provide more empirical evidence on the differential influence of language on executive functioning. In the present study, verbal strategies were induced in three executive functioning tasks. The tasks were linked to the three central executive functioning dimensions of updating (Complex Span task), shifting (Cognitive Flexibility task) and inhibition (Flanker task). It was expected that the effects of the verbal strategy instruction would counter the results of articulatory suppression and thus be strong in the Complex Span task, weak but present in the Cognitive Flexibility task and small or nonexistent in the Flanker task. N = 117 children participated in the study, with n = 39 four-year-olds, n = 38 six-year-olds, and n = 40 nine-year-olds. As expected, results revealed a benefit from induced verbal strategies in the Complex Span and the Cognitive Flexibility task, but not in the Flanker task. The positive effect of strategy instruction declined with increasing age, pointing to more frequent spontaneous and self-initiated use of verbal strategies over the course of development. The effect of strategy instruction in the Cognitive Flexibility task was unexpectedly strong in the light of the only small detrimental effect of articulatory suppression in the preceding study. Implications for language’s involvement in the different executive functioning dimensions and for practice are discussed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Fatzer, Simone and Roebers, Claudia


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Canadian Center of Science and Education




Jeannine Sebel

Date Deposited:

24 Apr 2014 09:38

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2017 04:07

Publisher DOI:





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