Exploring the link between inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility in preschool children

Written by Haris Memisevic, Inga Biscevic on . Posted in Volume XXII, Nr 1


Haris Memisevic1,*, Inga Biscevic2

1University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
2Herzegovina University, Department of Special Education, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina


The preschool years are considered the most important period in terms of executive functions development. In this study we explored the link between two executive functions in preschool children: inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility. For the assessment of inhibitory control, we used the Multiple Choice Reaction Test and as the measure of cognitive flexibility we used Semantic Fluency Test. The sample for this study consisted of 72 preschool children (35 girls; Mage = 59.2 months, SD = 9.2 months). The results of this study indicated (1) an overall low correlation between inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility (yet nonsignificant in boys, and moderate correlation in girls); (2) girls outperformed boys on the inhibitory control task, but not on the cognitive flexibility one; (3) children’s age was significantly correlated with their cognitive flexibility performance, but not with their inhibitory control scores. Our overall findings indicate that inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility are distinct features of executive functioning and seem to have different trajectories in preschool children as a function of gender and age.

Keywords: preschool children, executive functions, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility



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