The Relationship between Children’s Sensory Processing and Executive Functions: An Exploratory Study

Ted Brown, Emma Swayn, José Manuel Pérez Mármol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Sensory processing and executive functioning have been studied extensively as individual concepts in primary school children, yet little literature exists that has examined the relationship between these two factors. This study investigated the association between sensory processing and executive functioning in school-aged children. Parents of 40 typically developing children ((Formula presented.) = 7.42 years, SD = 0.95; 20 males and 20 females) completed the Sensory Profile 2 (SP-2) and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning, Second Edition (BRIEF-2). Spearman rho correlations and multiple linear regressions with bootstrapping were used to examine possible associations. Regression analysis findings indicated that all models were found to be statistically significant (p ≤ .001) with adjusted R2 values ranging from.30-.76. The SP-2 Avoiding, Sensitivity and Registration quadrant subscales were found to be significant predictors of the four BRIEF composite index scores. The SP-2 Body Position sensory subscale made unique contributions to the total variance of three BRIEF composite index models (Behavior Regulation Index = 9.7%, p = .01; Emotional Regulation Index = 8.8%, p < .001; Global Executive Composite = 6.3%, p = .01). The SP-2 Conduct behavioral subscale was also a unique contributor to three of the BRIEF composite index models’ total variance (Behavior Regulation Index = 14.5%, p = .01; Cognitive Regulation Index = 8.9%, p = .01; Global Executive Composite = 7.8%, p = .01). Children’s sensory processing and their executive functioning were strongly associated. The regression analyses demonstrated that a statistically significant predictive relationship between sensory processing as measured by the SP-2 and executive function as measured by the BRIEF-2 existed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-324
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2021


  • Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning, Second Edition
  • children
  • executive functioning
  • Sensory processing
  • sensory profile 2

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