Gradual Emergence of Developmental Language Disorders This article presents a theory of normal and delayed development of language. According to the theory, linguistic capacity develops in critically timed phases that occur gradually and sequentially. Normally, the rapid accumulation of stored utterances activates analytical mechanisms that are needed for the development of linguistic grammar. Children with slowly ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1994
Gradual Emergence of Developmental Language Disorders
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • John L. Locke
    MGH Institute of Health Professions and Harvard Medical School Boston, MA
  • Contact author: John L. Locke, PhD, MGH Institute of Health Professions, 101 Merrimac Street, Boston, MA 02114.
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1994
Gradual Emergence of Developmental Language Disorders
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1994, Vol. 37, 608-616. doi:10.1044/jshr.3703.608
History: Received August 26, 1993 , Accepted December 2, 1993
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1994, Vol. 37, 608-616. doi:10.1044/jshr.3703.608
History: Received August 26, 1993; Accepted December 2, 1993

This article presents a theory of normal and delayed development of language. According to the theory, linguistic capacity develops in critically timed phases that occur gradually and sequentially. Normally, the rapid accumulation of stored utterances activates analytical mechanisms that are needed for the development of linguistic grammar. Children with slowly developing brains have delays in the socially cognitive systems that store utterances, and a critical period for activation of experience-dependent grammatical mechanisms declines without optimal result. Continuing efforts to speak induct species-atypical allocations of neural resources into linguistic service. It is speculated that this compensatory activity leads to compensatory growth, which may ultimately be revealed as volumetric symmetry of perisylvian areas. Because rate of brain maturation is under genetic as well as environmental control, the stage is thus set for an impairment that will seem to be specific and a brain that will appear to be abnormal.

Acknowledgment
Portions of this article were presented in the special session on the biological bases of language disorders at the ASHA convention in San Antonio. I appreciate Elena Plante’s comments on some of the ideas expressed herein.
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