Executive function and the pragmatics of language in children with varying levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity
ADHD is a common disorder that develops in childhood. Beyond the diagnostic criteria, ADHD can lead to deficits in several functional domains, including executive functioning and pragmatic language ability. There has been little research into how executive functioning and pragmatic language ability are related and how that relationship is affected in an ADHD population. Past literature has drawn connections between these aspects individually but not extensively in a single model. There is debate about which executive functions play the most prominent role in one’s pragmatic language ability; higher-order or lower-order. The current study aimed to investigate whether executive functioning deficits explained the deficits in pragmatic language ability commonly seen in children with ADHD. Participants were 106 children aged between 7 and 12 years old. Executive functioning and ADHD symptom severity scores were obtained using standardised measures, and pragmatic language ability was assessed by applying a specifically tailored scoring protocol to 15-minute conversations between the child and a caregiver. Initial results revealed some inconsistencies with past literature with ADHD symptom severity showing no association with pragmatic language ability. However, there was a mediation effect of working memory on the relationship between ADHD symptom severity and pragmatic language ability, partially supporting the initial hypothesis. The findings are discussed regarding their implications in a clinical setting, and future research possibilities are suggested.
Advisor: Healey, Dione; Taumoepeau , Mele
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; ADHD; Executive; Function; pragmatic; language; attention; deficit; hyperactivity; disorder; mediation; memory; working; planning
Research Type: Thesis