Intergenerational associations in executive function between mothers and children in the context of risk

Matthew H. Kim, Lisa Shimomaeda, Ryan J. Giuliano, Elizabeth A. Skowron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Executive functioning (EF) is critical for school readiness and other important life skills. Previous investigations have often neglected the important influence of parental EF skills in shaping their own children's EF. This study attempted to replicate recent empirical work that has shown that maternal EF is positively related to child EF. An ecological theoretical framework was used to examine the maternal EF–child EF link in family environments characterized by significant risk and socioeconomic adversity. Data from 38 mother–child dyads revealed that larger maternal working memory capacity was associated with greater child accuracy and slower reaction times on a child-friendly Go/No-Go task of response inhibition but not on an Emotional Go/No-Go task. This finding suggests that in contexts of risk and adversity, slower reaction times, instead of reflecting weaker EF skills, might reflect an adaptive skill—that is, exercising appropriate caution and careful responding on a challenging task. Results provide additional evidence of an intergenerational link between maternal EF and child EF and yield new insights into the nature of EF in adverse environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.


  • Children
  • Executive function
  • Inhibitory control
  • Mothers
  • Socioeconomic risk
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Intergenerational associations in executive function between mothers and children in the context of risk'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this