Cognitive Stimulation as a Mechanism Linking Socioeconomic Status With Executive Function: A Longitudinal Investigation

Child Dev. 2020 Jul;91(4):e762-e779. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13315. Epub 2019 Oct 8.


Executive functions (EF), including working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility, vary as a function of socioeconomic status (SES), with children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds having poorer performance than their higher SES peers. Using observational methods, we investigated cognitive stimulation in the home as a mechanism linking SES with EF. In a sample of 101 children aged 60-75 months, cognitive stimulation fully mediated SES-related differences in EF. Critically, cognitive stimulation was positively associated with the development of inhibition and cognitive flexibility across an 18-month follow-up period. Furthermore, EF at T1 explained SES-related differences in academic achievement at T2. Early cognitive stimulation-a modifiable factor-may be a desirable target for interventions designed to ameliorate SES-related differences in cognitive development and academic achievement.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Success
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Social Class*