Executive Function in Early Childhood

  • End date
    Jun 30, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Vanderbilt University
Updated on 22 July 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


Despite the fact that a substantial number of school age children struggle with both reading and math acquisition, the brain mechanisms of the overlapping aspects of reading and math skills, thought in part to be linked via executive functions (EF), have not been unpacked. This project will use a longitudinal design, following children from Kindergarten through 1st grade, to understand how the brain networks associated with reading, math, and EF interact to predict academic outcomes and, in those who struggle academically, intervention response.


This longitudinal study will be conducted with 260 Kindergartners, staggered across multiple cohorts, who are followed through 1st grade. There will be three time points of testing for each cohort: fall of Kindergarten, spring of Kindergarten, and in the fall of 1st grade.

After the third testing time point, in the fall of 1st grade, the bottom 1/3 of readers in the sample will be selected to participate in the intervention arm of the study. These students will be randomly placed in one of two arms: business-as-usual, in which children receive no additional instruction; or the reading intervention condition, in which they receive 20 hours of 1:1 reading intervention over 6 weeks. Children in both sub-sample arms are assessed again after tutoring is complete, in the spring of 1st grade.

Neuroimaging through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) will occur as part of study participation in conjunction with testing at fall of Kindergarten, fall of 1st grade, and spring of 1st grade time points.

Condition Reading Disability
Treatment Reading Tutoring
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03713125
SponsorVanderbilt University
Last Modified on22 July 2022


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Inclusion Criteria

Children in Kindergarten (approximate ages 4-9 years)
Native English speakers

Exclusion Criteria

Children not in Kindergarten at time of enrollment
previous diagnosis of Intellectual Disability
known uncorrectable visual impairment
documented hearing impairment greater than or equal to a 25 decibel (dB) loss
medical contraindication to MRI procedures (e.g., metal devices) - excludes from MRI procedures only
known intelligence quotient (IQ) below 70
a pervasive developmental disorder; and
any known neurologic pathology, including epilepsy, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and brain tumors
Comorbid severe psychiatric disorders will also be excluded, as will those who are taking psychotropic medications, with the exception of stimulant medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children who meet criteria for ADHD will be eligible as long as they are not taking psychotropic medications, with the exception of stimulant medication for ADHD
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Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

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If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

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Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

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