Is there a relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Reading Comprehension Difficulties mediated by Executive Function?

Assignment type: Essay
Author: Rosalind Keefe
Submitted: October 2020

Research has shown that children affected by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are more likely to have difficulties with executive function. Research has also highlighted that reading comprehension is a complex process that is supported by executive functions including working memory, inhibition, shifting, planning and metacognition. In this essay I propose that ACE exposure may increase reading comprehension difficulties mediated by poorer executive functioning. ACE exposure is known to predict poorer academic outcomes, including reading ability but, at present, limited research has attempted to investigate specific factors underpinning this relationship.

In this essay, I outline research that has explored the relationship between executive function and ACEs and also executive function and reading comprehension. I will then bring these topics together to consider what the evidence is to directly support the essay question.

Overall, there is a lack of research in this area and this prevents firm conclusions from being drawn, at present. However, I argue that despite this, the current research suggests this is an important area for future research. I highlight a number of challenges within this topic including; the challenges with defining and measuring executive function, a lack of research within the topic of ACEs, as a whole, and variation in developmental outcomes depending on the ACE. These are important considerations for future research in this topic. In the final section, I highlight some potential implications for educational psychologists and teachers.

Download (PDF)

Does attachment influence learning? An investigation in to the associations between attachment, executive function and academic attainment

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Lindsey Foy
Submitted: June 2016


In the field of psychology there is a growing interest in the relationship between early experiences and neurocognitive development (Schore & Schore, 2008). It has been suggested that early attachment experiences influence the development of a group of cognitive processes known as executive functions (e.g. Bernier, Carlson & Whipple, 2010). This thesis investigates the association between attachment styles and executive function in children and adolescents. Chapters one and two focus on different age groups. The literature review in chapter one explores the existing studies that consider this relationship in children aged 12 months to 11 years. A number of methodological issues in assessing the association between attachment and executive function are identified and discussed. The empirical paper in chapter two examines the associations between attachment, executive function and academic attainment in early adolescence aged 11 years to 14 years. Students (N=32) completed an attachment questionnaire, three executive function tasks and an IQ test. The results demonstrated an association between executive functions and academic attainment. However, the associations between attachment and executive functions did not reach significance and attachment was not found to influence academic attainment indirectly via executive function. The findings are discussed in terms of future research and implications for professional practice.

Download thesis (PDF) via ePrints Soton