Examining the Language Performances of Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment: Contributions of Phonological Short-Term Memory and Speed of Processing Purpose This study investigated the effects of processing speed and phonological short-term memory (PSTM) on children’s language performance. Method Forty-eight school-age children with specific language impairment (SLI) and age peers completed auditory detection reaction time (RT) and nonword repetition tasks, the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals—Revised (CELF–R; E. ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2007
Examining the Language Performances of Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment: Contributions of Phonological Short-Term Memory and Speed of Processing
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • James W. Montgomery
    Ohio University, Athens
  • Jennifer Windsor
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Contact author: James W. Montgomery, School of Hearing, Speech & Language Sciences, Grover Center W231, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701-2979. E-mail: montgoj1@ohio.edu.
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2007
Examining the Language Performances of Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment: Contributions of Phonological Short-Term Memory and Speed of Processing
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 778-797. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/054)
History: Received November 24, 2004 , Revised August 24, 2005 , Accepted September 7, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 778-797. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/054)
History: Received November 24, 2004; Revised August 24, 2005; Accepted September 7, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 45

Purpose This study investigated the effects of processing speed and phonological short-term memory (PSTM) on children’s language performance.

Method Forty-eight school-age children with specific language impairment (SLI) and age peers completed auditory detection reaction time (RT) and nonword repetition tasks, the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals—Revised (CELF–R; E. Semel, E. Wiig, & W. Secord, 1987), and a word recognition RT task. Correlation and regression were used to determine unique and shared contributions to variance among measures.

Results Children with SLI were outperformed by age peers on each task. Auditory detection RT was correlated with nonword repetition (NWR) in each group. However, both variables covaried with age, and auditory detection RT did not contribute unique variance to NWR in either group. For the SLI group, NWR predicted unique variance in CELF–R performance (about 15%); auditory detection RT predicted a smaller amount of unique variance in the word recognition RT task (about 9%).

Conclusion Processing speed and PSTM measures covaried with chronological age. Processing speed was associated with offline language performance only through association with PSTM. Processing speed contributed to online language performance, suggesting that speed is associated with processing more familiar language material (i.e., lexical content and structure) than less familiar material (e.g., various content on the CELF–R).

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by Research Grants DC 02535 (to the first author) and DC 04437 (to the second author) from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. We express our gratitude to the children and their parents who participated in this study and also to Dongsun Yim for her help with statistical analyses.
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