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  • Susana Molina Bustamante

The association between executive functions and early numeracy in 4-year-old preschoolers

This study aims to reveal how executive functions are related to early numeracy skills. Several articles have been published in this respect. The present one focuses on just two executive functions, inhibition and switching, and two early numeracy skills, counting and numerical relational skills. The study wants to determine how the accuracy and reaction time in inhibition and switching tasks correlate with the counting and numerical relational skills in four-year-old preschoolers, and if there is any general latent condition under which these relations are modified. The participants of this study are 4-year-old preschoolers (N=189) from preschools in the Helsinki Area (N=21), Finland. They have done two different tests that have been used to gather the data. A digital version of the Flanker tasks (modified from Fan, et al. (2002)) has measured inhibition and switching accuracy and reaction time. The Early Numeracy Test (Aunio, Hautamäki, Heiskari, & Van Luit, 2006) has measured the preschoolers’ performance in counting and relational skills. The data has been quantitatively analysed with SPSS and R. A correlation analysis has been performed to understand how the variables are related (calculation of Spearman’s rank correlation). A latent profile analysis has been run using the mclust package, to see if there could be extracted any latent variable that could drive the correlation in different directions. The main results reveal that accuracy in inhibition and switching tasks have a weak to moderate positive correlation with the successful use of counting and relational skills in 4-year-old preschoolers. Reaction time seems to be a variable whose implications change depending on the participants’ EN-performance, as visible in the latent profile analysis. However, there have not been yielded any robust conclusions about the existence of latent variables.

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