Longitudinal development of executive functioning and spoken language skills in preschool-aged children with cochlear implants

William G. Kronenberger, Huiping Xu, David B. Pisoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: Auditory deprivation has downstream effects on the development of language and executive functioning (EF) in prelingually deaf children with cochlear implants (CIs), but little is known about the very early development of EF during preschool ages in children with CIs. This study investigated the longitudinal development of EF and spoken language skills in samples of children with normal hearing (NH; N = 40) or CIs (N = 41) during preschool ages. Method: Participants were enrolled in the study between ages 3 and 6 years and evaluated annually up to the age of 7 years. Mixed-effects models were used to evaluate and predict growth of spoken language and EF skills over time. Results: Children with CIs scored lower than NH peers on language measures but improved significantly over time. On performance-based neurocognitive measures of controlled attention, inhibition, and working memory, children with CIs scored more poorly than the sample of NH peers but comparable to norms, whereas on a parent report behavior checklist, children with CIs scored more poorly than both NH peers and norms on inhibition and working memory. Children with CIs had poorer EF than the sample of NH peers in most domains even after accounting for language effects, and language predicted only the verbal working memory domain of EF. In contrast, EF skills consistently predicted language skills at subsequent visits. Conclusions: Findings demonstrate that, despite significant improvement over time, some domains of EF (particularly parent-reported EF) and language skills in children with CIs lag behind those of children with NH during preschool ages. Language delays do not fully explain differences in EF development between children with CIs and NH peers during preschool ages, but EF skills predict subsequent language development in children with CIs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1128-1147
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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