The Other Side of Cognitive Control: Can a Lack of Cognitive Control Benefit Language and Cognition?


should be sent to Evangelia G. Chrysikou, Ph.D., Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, 3720 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. E-mail:


Cognitive control refers to the regulation of mental activity to support flexible cognition across different domains. Cragg and Nation (2010) propose that the development of cognitive control in children parallels the development of language abilities, particularly inner speech. We suggest that children’s late development of cognitive control also mirrors their limited ability to revise misinterpretations of sentence meaning. Moreover, we argue that for certain tasks, a tradeoff between bottom-up (data-driven) and top-down (rule-based) thinking may actually benefit performance in both children and adults. Specifically, we propose that a lack of cognitive control may promote important aspects of cognitive development, like language acquisition and creativity.