The Effect of Maltreatment Type on Adolescent Executive Functioning and Inner Speech

Kirke-Smith, Mimi; Henry, Lucy A. and Messer, David (2016). The Effect of Maltreatment Type on Adolescent Executive Functioning and Inner Speech. Infant and Child Development, 25(6) pp. 516–532.



There are indications that different types of maltreatment can lead to different cognitive and behavioural outcomes. This study investigated whether maltreatment type was related to executive functioning (EF) abilities and the use of inner speech. Forty maltreated adolescents and a comparison group of 40 non-maltreated typically developing (TD) adolescents completed a battery of tasks designed to assess both their EF abilities and their vulnerability to disruptions to inner speech. They also completed an IQ test. MANCOVA and ANCOVA analyses were carried out to examine potential effects of maltreatment type (abuse alone; neglect alone; abuse/neglect combined and no maltreatment) on EF and use of inner speech.

Maltreatment type was related to EF abilities. In particular, abuse only and abuse/neglect combined had a greater negative impact on EF than neglect only. However, the neglect alone group were more vulnerable to disruptions to inner speech than the other two maltreatment groups, suggesting that they may be more reliant on the use of inner speech. These findings provide new insights into the differential impact of maltreatment type on EF and the use of inner speech in adolescence, and could be used to improve the educational outcomes of these vulnerable young people.

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