The Cognitive Components of Patterning: The Relation between Executive Function and Patterning




Bock, Allison

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The ability to detect a pattern within a sequence of ordered units, defined as patterning, is a skill that is central to learning mathematics and influential in reading. Although the importance of patterning has been demonstrated, there has been limited research investigating the cognitive components of patterning. Studies suggested that cognitive flexibility and working memory may underlie patterning. A construct similar to patterning, fluid intelligence, has also been linked to executive function, which includes working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility. However, fluid intelligence seems to be most highly related to working memory. The main goal of the study was to examine the role of working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility in first-grade children’s patterning ability. We found that only cognitive flexibility was significantly related to patterning. This suggests that the ability to switch one’s thinking is involved in understanding patterns. In addition, the study tested the relation between executive function skills, patterning, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. We found that working memory was related to reading fluency and both working memory and inhibition were related to and uniquely predicted reading comprehension. Lastly, cognitive flexibility was significantly related to inhibition and working memory; however, inhibition and working memory were not related to one another.



Developmental psychology, Cognitive development, Executive function, Patterning, Reading