Sustained Attention in Children With Specific Language Impairment (SLI) PurposeInformation-processing limitations have been associated with language problems in children with specific language impairment (SLI). These processing limitations may be associated with limitations in attentional capacity, even in the absence of clinically significant attention deficits. In this study, the authors examined the performance of 4- to 6-year-old children with SLI ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2009
Sustained Attention in Children With Specific Language Impairment (SLI)
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Denise A. Finneran
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Alexander L. Francis
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Contact author: Denise A. Finneran, who is now with the University of South Carolina, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Williams Brice Building, 6th Floor, 1621 Greene Street, Columbia, SC 29208. E-mail: dfinneran@sc.edu.
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article   |   August 01, 2009
Sustained Attention in Children With Specific Language Impairment (SLI)
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2009, Vol. 52, 915-929. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0053)
History: Received March 1, 2007 , Revised May 2, 2008 , Accepted January 11, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2009, Vol. 52, 915-929. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0053)
History: Received March 1, 2007; Revised May 2, 2008; Accepted January 11, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 77

PurposeInformation-processing limitations have been associated with language problems in children with specific language impairment (SLI). These processing limitations may be associated with limitations in attentional capacity, even in the absence of clinically significant attention deficits. In this study, the authors examined the performance of 4- to 6-year-old children with SLI and their typically developing (TD) peers on a visual sustained attention task. It was predicted that the children with SLI would demonstrate lower levels of performance in the absence of clinically significant attention deficits.

MethodA visual continuous performance task (CPT) was used to assess sustained attention in 13 children with SLI (M = 62.07 months) and 13 TD age-matched controls (M = 62.92 months). All children were screened for normal vision, hearing, and attention. Accuracy (d') and response time were analyzed to see if this sustained attention task could differentiate between the 2 groups.

ResultsThe children with SLI were significantly less accurate but not significantly slower than the TD children on this test of visual sustained attention.

ConclusionChildren with SLI may have reduced capacity for sustained attention in the absence of clinically significant attention deficits that, over time, could contribute to language learning difficulties.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 DC00458 and a pre-doctoral traineeship in communicative disorders (T32 DC00030). This research was conducted while the first author was a doctoral student at Purdue University. We would like to thank Patricia Deevy, the research team of the Child Language Development Laboratory at Purdue University, and the children and families who participated in this study. We would also like to thank Andrew Lewandowski and Kristofer Jennings at Purdue’s Statistical Consulting Services through the Department of Statistics for their assistance with the analyses of covariance reported in this article.
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