Do Children and Adults With Language Impairment Recognize Prosodic Cues? PurposeProsodic cues are used to clarify sentence structure and meaning. Two studies, one of children with specific language impairment (SLI) and one of adults with a history of learning disabilities, were designed to determine whether individuals with poor language skills recognize prosodic cues on par with their normal-language peers.MethodParticipants were ... Article/Report
Article/Report  |   June 2007
Do Children and Adults With Language Impairment Recognize Prosodic Cues?
 
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Elena Plante, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, P.O. Box 210071, Tucson, AZ 85721. E-mail: eplante@u.arizona.edu.
  • © 2007 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article/Report   |   June 2007
Do Children and Adults With Language Impairment Recognize Prosodic Cues?
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 746-758. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/052)
History: Received February 1, 2005 , Revised September 8, 2005 , Accepted August 25, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 746-758. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/052)
History: Received February 1, 2005; Revised September 8, 2005; Accepted August 25, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 13

PurposeProsodic cues are used to clarify sentence structure and meaning. Two studies, one of children with specific language impairment (SLI) and one of adults with a history of learning disabilities, were designed to determine whether individuals with poor language skills recognize prosodic cues on par with their normal-language peers.

MethodParticipants were asked to determine whether low-pass filtered sentences matched unfiltered target sentences. Filtered sentences either matched the target sentence exactly or differed on between 1 and 3 parameters that affected the prosodic profile of the sentences.

ResultsChildren with SLI were significantly poorer than their normal peers in determining whether low-pass filtered sentences matched or were different from unfiltered target sentences. The children’s performance, measured in terms of response accuracy, deteriorated as the similarities between filtered and unfiltered sentences increased. Adults revealed a pattern of differential reaction time to sentence pairs that reflected their relative degree of similarity. There was no difference in performance accuracy for adults with a history of language/learning disabilities compared with their peers.

ConclusionGiven that prosodic cues are known to assist language processing, the weak prosodic skills of preschool children with SLI may limit the amount of benefit that these children derive from the presence of prosodic cues in spoken language. That the adult sample did not show a similar weakness in this skill may reflect developmental differences, sampling differences, or a combination of both.

Acknowledgments
This work was funded by Grant R01 DC04726 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Experiment 2 was completed as a master’s thesis by the first author. Portions of this paper were presented at the 2004 meeting of the Society for Research in Child Language Disorders, Madison, Wisconsin.
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