Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Yuko Munakata

Second Advisor

Dr. Sabine Doebel


Executive functions (EFs) are mechanisms that help us regulate our thoughts, feelings and behaviors; and predict important life outcomes. EFs go through a developmental transition in childhood, from reactive control to proactive control. A parallel transition to this transition occurs in self-directed speech, which is also used to guide, plan and to support self-regulation of cognition and behavior. This cross-sectional study tested whether there is a relationship between developmental transitions in children’s use of self-directed speech to regulate their behavior and the proactive engagement of executive functions. Five to seven-year-old children (N = 82) completed measures of proactive control and self-directed speech. Proactive control and self-directed speech changed with age. However, these transitions did not appear to be related, potentially due to issues of small sample size and the number of tasks. Other limitations included the inability to test causal interpretations. These limitations suggest the need for further research to test relations between these transitions and causal relationships.