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Title: Executive function in children with reading difficulties
Author: Wang, Shinmin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 7809
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2012
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Executive functions are the constellation of higher-level control processes that enable individuals to monitor and regulate cognitive processing. Evidence regarding whether executive function deficits contributes to reading difficulties in children characterized by decoding deficits remains controversial. In this thesis, a range of executive functions were assessed in three samples of English children with reading difficulties whose performance was compared to that of chronological-age matched control children. Results from the first study showed that children with reading difficulties performed poorly in working memory and in inhibiting prepotent response. A second study replicated this finding and further established that the impairments in working memory, inhibition and dual task coordination were highly restricted to the tasks requiring processing of verbal materials. These patterns were confirmed in a third study employing a range of inhibition-related tasks in addition to measures of working memory and the dual task coordination. Overall, this work does not point to a generalized executive function deficit in children with reading difficulties. Rather, verbal executive function deficits in children with reading difficulties may arise as a consequence of their phonological deficits. Moreover, the finding that group difference in verbal executive functions persisted after the phonological deficit was taken into account gives rise to two possibilities. First, poor performance in executive function measures may surface as a function of certain task requirements, notably the combination of verbal material processing and executive demands. The possible role of phonological deficit that requires executive involvement to compensate in children with reading difficulties was proposed and discussed. Secondly, an impaired connection between the phonological processing and executive control systems may contribute to both the phonological deficits and verbal executive functions deficits among children with reading difficulties.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available