Basic Auditory Processing Skills and Specific Language Impairment: A New Look at an Old Hypothesis Purpose To explore the sensitivity of children with specific language impairment (SLI) to amplitude-modulated and durational cues that are important for perceiving suprasegmental speech rhythm and stress patterns. Method Sixty-three children between 7 and 11 years of age were tested, 21 of whom had a diagnosis of SLI, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2007
Basic Auditory Processing Skills and Specific Language Impairment: A New Look at an Old Hypothesis
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kathleen Corriveau
    Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England
  • Elizabeth Pasquini
    Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England
  • Usha Goswami
    Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England
  • Contact author: Usha Goswami, Centre for Neuroscience, Faculty of Education, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8PQ, United Kingdom. E-mail: ucg10@cam.ac.uk.
  • Kathleen Corriveau and Elizabeth Pasquini are now affiliated with the Graduate School of Education, Harvard University.
    Kathleen Corriveau and Elizabeth Pasquini are now affiliated with the Graduate School of Education, Harvard University.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2007
Basic Auditory Processing Skills and Specific Language Impairment: A New Look at an Old Hypothesis
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 647-666. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/046)
History: Received June 14, 2005 , Revised November 29, 2005 , Accepted August 7, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 647-666. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/046)
History: Received June 14, 2005; Revised November 29, 2005; Accepted August 7, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 68

Purpose To explore the sensitivity of children with specific language impairment (SLI) to amplitude-modulated and durational cues that are important for perceiving suprasegmental speech rhythm and stress patterns.

Method Sixty-three children between 7 and 11 years of age were tested, 21 of whom had a diagnosis of SLI, 21 of whom were matched for chronological age to the SLI sample, and 21 of whom were matched for language age to the SLI sample. All children received a battery of nonspeech auditory processing tasks along with standardized measures of phonology and language.

Results As many as 70%–80% of children diagnosed with SLI were found to perform below the 5th percentile of age-matched controls in auditory processing tasks measuring sensitivity to amplitude envelope rise time and sound duration. Furthermore, individual differences in sensitivity to these cues predicted unique variance in language and literacy attainment, even when age, nonverbal IQ, and task-related (attentional) factors were controlled.

Conclusion Many children with SLI have auditory processing difficulties, but for most children, these are not specific to brief, rapidly successive acoustic cues. Instead, sensitivity to durational and amplitude envelope cues appear to predict language and literacy outcomes more strongly. This finding now requires replication and exploration in languages other than English.

Acknowledgments
The first author was supported by a Cambridge Gates Scholarship, and the second author was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. We thank the following individuals and groups for taking part in this study: the head teacher(s) and the children of Arbury and Stapleford Primary Schools, Cambridge, England; Round Diamond JMI, Stevenage, England; Southfields Junior School, Peterborough, England; and St. Helen’s, St. Francis, St. Angela’s, Star, and Sandringham Primary Schools, London, England.
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