Early communicative gestures prospectively predict language development and executive function in early childhood


Journal Article

© 2014 The Authors. Child Development © 2014 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. Using an epidemiological sample (N = 1,117) and a prospective longitudinal design, this study tested the direct and indirect effects of preverbal and verbal communication (15 months to 3 years) on executive function (EF) at age 4 years. Results indicated that whereas gestures (15 months), as well as language (2 and 3 years), were correlated with later EF (ϕs ≥.44), the effect was entirely mediated through later language. In contrast, language had significant direct and indirect effects on later EF. Exploratory analyses indicated that the pattern of results was comparable for low- and not-low-income families. The results were consistent with theoretical accounts of language as a precursor of EF ability, and highlighted gesture as an early indicator of EF.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kuhn, LJ; Willoughby, MT; Wilbourn, MP; Vernon-Feagans, L; Blair, CB

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 85 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1898 - 1914

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-8624

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0009-3920

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/cdev.12249

Citation Source

  • Scopus