Sentence Comprehension in Children With Specific Language Impairment: The Role of Phonological Working Memory This study examined the influence of phonological working memory on sentence comprehension in children with specific language impairment (SLI). Fourteen children with SLI and 13 with normal language (NL) participated in two tasks. In the first, a nonsense word repetition task (index of phonological working memory), subjects repeated nonsense words ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 1995
Sentence Comprehension in Children With Specific Language Impairment: The Role of Phonological Working Memory
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • James W. Montgomery
    Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences Clinical Center for Development and Learning University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Contact author: James W. Montgomery, PhD, Center for Development and Learning, CB #7255, BSRC, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC27599–7255. E-mail: jim=montgomery%faculty%cdl@css.unc.edu
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 1995
Sentence Comprehension in Children With Specific Language Impairment: The Role of Phonological Working Memory
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1995, Vol. 38, 187-199. doi:10.1044/jshr.3801.187
History: Received March 10, 1994 , Accepted August 5, 1994
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1995, Vol. 38, 187-199. doi:10.1044/jshr.3801.187
History: Received March 10, 1994; Accepted August 5, 1994

This study examined the influence of phonological working memory on sentence comprehension in children with specific language impairment (SLI). Fourteen children with SLI and 13 with normal language (NL) participated in two tasks. In the first, a nonsense word repetition task (index of phonological working memory), subjects repeated nonsense words varying in length from one syllable to four. In a sentence comprehension task, subjects listened to sentences under two conditions varying in linguistic redundancy (redundant, nonredundant). On the nonsense word repetition task, between- and within-group analyses revealed that subjects with SLI repeated significantly fewer 3-syllable and 4-syllable nonsense words. On the sentence comprehension task, between- and within-group analyses determined that subjects with SLI comprehended significantly fewer redundant (longer) sentences than nonredundant (shorter) sentences. A positive correlation was found between subjects' performance on the nonsense word repetition and sentence comprehension tasks. Results were interpreted to suggest that children with SLI have diminished phonological working memory capacity and that this capacity deficit compromises their sentence comprehension efforts.

Acknowledgments
The author thanks Tim Brown for his assistance with data analysis and Cheryl Hunter for preparing the figures. This project was supported by a New Investigators Award from the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Foundation and by grants awarded to the Center for the Study of Development and Learning by the Child Health Bureau (#MCJ-379154–02–0) and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (#90DD0207).
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