Information Processing by School-Age Children With Specific Language Impairment Evidence From a Modality Effect Paradigm Research Article
EDITOR'S AWARD
Research Article  |   August 1998
Information Processing by School-Age Children With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ronald B. Gillam
    University of Texas-Austin
  • Nelson Cowan
    University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Jeffrey A. Marler
    University of Texas-Austin
  • Contact author: Ron Gillam, Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders, Jesse H. Jones Communication Center, Austin, TX 78712-1089. Email: rgillam@mail.utexas.edu
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 1998
Information Processing by School-Age Children With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1998, Vol. 41, 913-926. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4104.913
History: Received June 2, 1997 , Accepted November 11, 1997
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1998, Vol. 41, 913-926. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4104.913
History: Received June 2, 1997; Accepted November 11, 1997

School-age children with specific language impairment (SLI) and age-matched controls were tested for immediate recall of digits presented visually, auditorily, or audiovisually. Recall tasks compared speaking and pointing response modalities. Each participant was tested at a level that was consistent with her or his auditory short-term memory span. Traditional effects of primacy, recency, and modality (an auditory recall advantage) were obtained for both groups. The groups performed similarly when audiovisual stimuli were paired with a spoken response, but children with SLI had smaller recency effects together with an unusually poor recall when visually presented items were paired with a pointing response. Such results cannot be explained on the basis of an auditory or speech deficit per se, and suggest that children with SLI have difficulty either retaining or using phonological codes, or both, during tasks that require multiple mental operations. Capacity limitations, involving the rapid decay of phonological representations and/or performance limitations related to the use of less demanding and less effective coding and retrieval strategies, could have contributed to the working memory deficiencies in the children with SLI.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders to Gillam (DC-00086) and by a grant from NICHD (HD-21338) to Cowan. Thanks to the faculty, staff, and students from Extend-A-Care, the Austin Independent School District, and the Leander Independent School District. We also wish to thank Jenny Helzer, Cherilyn Young, and Kate Reeder for assisting with data collection and analysis.
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