Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Syntactic awareness, receptive vocabulary, and executive control (i.e., cognitive inhibition and cognitive flexibility) are robust predictors of language, literacy, and academic success (Bialystok, Craik, Klein, & Viswanathan, 2004; Davidson et al., 2010; Foursha-Stevenson & Nicoladis, 2011). In general, research demonstrates that receptive vocabulary is related to syntactic awareness (Davidson, Vanegas, Hilvert & Misiunaite, 2017; Galambos & Hakuta, 1988). There is also research to suggest that facets of executive control, such as cognitive inhibition and cognitive flexibility may also be related to syntactic awareness (Bialystok, 1986; Simard, Foucambert, & Labelle, 2013). However, receptive vocabulary, cognitive inhibition, and cognitive flexibility have only been examined separately. Thus, the current study examined the influence of receptive vocabulary, cognitive inhibition, and cognitive flexibility on syntactic awareness skill in young children (age range = 7-10 years old). Using a grammaticality judgment task with and without semantic anomalies, participants were required to identify whether a sentence was grammatically correct for sentences that were grammatically correct, grammatically incorrect, and contained semantic anomalies. Regression analyses revealed that receptive vocabulary, cognitive inhibition, and cognitive flexibility separately predicted performance on the grammaticality judgment task, whereas reaction time on measures of cognitive inhibition predicted syntactic awareness beyond the contribution of receptive vocabulary and cognitive flexibility. This study provides evidence of the importance of executive control skill (e.g., cognitive inhibition) in syntactic awareness.

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Available for download on Wednesday, October 11, 2023