Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Yuko Munakata

Second Advisor

Dr. Mark Whisman

Third Advisor

Dr. Peter Hunt

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


An important shift in development is the increasing ability to proactively engage executive function instead of reactively. We tested the possible influence of language on proactive control. We used a task in which children had to track a moving novel target shape on a screen in the midst of novel distractor shapes and then identify where the target disappeared. There was no difference in tracking accuracy for previously unseen and unlabeled targets between children who received useful labels for a set of shapes and those who only received generic names. However, children who only received generic names were more likely to provide a label for the unlabeled shapes compared to children who received labels. It is possible that these labels were generated during the task to aid the engagement of proactive control. These findings add to our limited understanding of the relationship between language and proactive control, and provide future directions, such as ways to better measure self-generated labels.