Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2020

Thesis Advisor(s)

Marie Coppola

Honors Major



Developmental Psychology | Linguistics | Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Executive functioning (EF) is a multidimensional aspect of development that encompasses various mental skills. Children’s utilization of inhibition, in particular, has proven to be one of the most important determinants of academic success. How deafness in children impacts their EF abilities is a question that remains divisive within deaf studies. Some suggest that auditory deprivation is a direct cause of poor EF, while others posit reduced or insufficient language experience that deaf children live with harms their EF development. We sought to explore this question further with a participant sample from our larger SLaM (Study of Language and Math) project. A total of 88 participants consisting of deaf/hard-of-hearing (DHH) (n = 67) and typically hearing participants (n = 21) ages 3;1-7;6 were divided into separate language timing (Early vs. Later) and language modality (ASL vs. English) groups. Scores on a behavioral, non-standardized measure of EF (Opposites task) and a standardized parental report measure (BRIEF-P: Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function - Preschool) were compared separately across timing and modality groups. Additionally, potential relationships between these measurements of EF were explored. We found that earlier access to language positively impacts EF abilities on the BRIEF-P only. When language modality was considered alone, it had no apparent influence on EF abilities for either of the two tasks. Our results corroborate previous findings suggesting that behavioral non-standardized measures and standardized measures of EF do not significantly correlate with one another (Beer, Kronenberger, Castellanos, Colson, Henning, and Pisoni, 2014).