The relationship between cognitive flexibility in drawing and inflectional morphology in children aged 5-7
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This study was conducted to study the long-disputed relationship between cognition and language from a new angle: Cognitive flexibility measured as creativity in drawing in relation to inflectional morphology in typically developing children aged 5-7. Research has found that cognitive flexibility and/or shifting are related to certain aspect of language development, particularly in groups of children with atypical language development such as specific language impairment, bilingualism and reading problems. The present study can contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between cognition and language problems, as well as provide a new angle to study the theoretical concept of cognitive flexibility from. Inflectional morphology was tested with two similar tasks, one that used existing Dutch words and another that tested children’s ability to generalize morphological rules to non-existing words. Contrary to the hypothesis there was no significant relationship between cognitive flexibility in drawing and inflectional morphology. Both intelligence and age explained more variance in inflectional morphology. Inspection of the data showed distinctive age patterns for inflectional morphology: The 7-year-olds scored higher than the 5- and 6-year-olds and there was especially less variation in the older groups compared with the younger groups. This is in accordance with the theory of the development of morphological awareness by Berko (1953). The results suggest that cognitive flexibility as measured with a creative drawing task is not related to inflectional morphology in typically developing children.