Inhibitory Control Predicts Grammatical Ability

Ibbotson, Paul and Kearvell-White, Jennifer (2015). Inhibitory Control Predicts Grammatical Ability. PLoS ONE, 10(12)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0145030

Abstract

We present evidence that individual variation in grammatical ability can be predicted by individual variation in inhibitory control. We tested 81 5-year-olds using two classic tests from linguistics and psychology (Past Tense and the Stroop). Inhibitory control was a better predicator of grammatical ability than either vocabulary or age. Our explanation is that giving the correct response in both tests requires using a common cognitive capacity to inhibit unwanted competition. The implications are that understanding the developmental trajectory of language acquisition can benefit from integrating the developmental trajectory of non-linguistic faculties, such as executive control.

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