Cognitive flexibility in children with Developmental Language Disorder: Drawing of nonexistent objects

Elma Blom, Roni Berke, Nehama Shaya, Esther Adi-Japha

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5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt thoughts and behaviors to new environments. Previous studies investigating cognitive flexibility in children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) present contradictory findings. In the current study, cognitive flexibility was assessed in 5- and 6-year-old preschoolers with DLD (n = 23) and peers with typical development (TD; n = 50) using a nonexistent object drawing (NEOD) task. The children were asked to draw a nonexistent man and a nonexistent house. The children with DLD did not differ from their peers with TD on simple category changes, which were comprised of changes in the size or shape of parts of the object, change of the whole shape of the object, and deletion of parts of the object. Nevertheless, children with DLD made fewer more complex, high-level category changes, which included same-category insertions, position exchange of object's parts, and cross-category insertions. The difference between DLD and TD on high-level category changes was related to differences between the two groups in verbal short-term memory and inhibition. Furthermore, children with DLD made no changes to their original drawings of an existing man and house more often than their peers with TD. It is concluded that children with DLD aged 5–6 years show less flexibility on the NEOD task than age-matched children with TD. This difference in cognitive flexibility may be related to lower levels of verbal short-term memory and inhibition ability of children with DLD, or to different use of these cognitive skills on the NEOD task.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106137
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
Volume93
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Keywords

  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Inhibition
  • Language disorders
  • Nonexistent object drawing
  • Verbal short-term memory

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