Inhibitory Control Predicts Grammatical Ability

Ibbotson, Paul and Kearvell-White, Jennifer (2015). Inhibitory Control Predicts Grammatical Ability. PLoS ONE, 10(12), article no. e0145030.



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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