Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Marjorie Beeghly

Second Advisor

Michael Behen


In this sample of 144 children with a history of prior orphanage experience, increasing duration of institutionalization is related to decreasing performance for a number of cognitive domains, most consistently verbal measures and executive Functioning measures. The relationships with duration for measures requiring visual-spatial skills were more mixed and a visual reasoning task was found to significantly relate to duration but not a measure of visual memory or a measure of nonverbal achievement. There was little evidence to support a relationship between the duration of institutionalization and fine-motor dexterity. The strongest relationships with duration were observed for language measures followed by executive functioning measures. In addition to evaluating which measures demonstrate the strongest relationship with duration, the shape of the relationship was also observed. In this sample, some but not all of the measures were best represented by a nonlinear relationship with duration. For language measures, including a measure of language knowledge and a measure of receptive vocabulary, a nonlinear relationship was observed with increasingly lower scores observed with increasing duration. A nonlinear relationship was also observed for a measure of verbal working memory. These results may demonstrate a sensitive period in language development for children with a history of institutional care that occurs around approximately two years of age.