The role of executive functions in lexical processing during reading comprehension

Xian LIAO, Mingjia CAI, Cathy On-Ying HUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


Robust relation has been revealed previously between the components of executive function (EF) and reading comprehension performance. However, the specific role of EF in the reading processes remains relatively underexplored. Within the framework of the lexical quality hypothesis (LQH), this study examined the contribution of EF to the lexical processing of words, and how this eventually supports reading comprehension. A total of 262 Grade 3 students in Hong Kong were assessed using multiple measures of EF, lexical processing skills (i.e. orthographic awareness, morphological awareness, and receptive vocabulary knowledge) and reading comprehension, respectively. Our findings indicate significant associations between EF and lexical processing skills, which, in turn, contributed to better reading comprehension. The results demonstrate how EF supports Chinese reading comprehension through the mediating effects of a reader's mental operation in obtaining meanings of individual words. The findings support to the notion that peripheral skills facilitate reading comprehension through more central skills. Copyright © 2023 International Literacy Association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-767
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number4
Early online dateJun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


Liao, X., Cai, M., & Hung, C. O.-Y. (2023). The role of executive functions in lexical processing during reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 58(4), 755-767.


  • Executive function
  • Reading comprehension
  • Mediating effects
  • Lexical processing skills


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