Cognitive Stimulation as a Mechanism Linking Socioeconomic Status With Executive Function: A Longitudinal Investigation
Peer reviewed accepted manuscript.
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.