Working Memory Capacity and Language Processes in Children With Specific Language Impairment This study examined the interaction between working memory and language comprehension in children with specific language impairment (SLI), focusing on the function of the central executive component and its interaction with the phonological loop (A. D. Baddeley, 1986) in complex working memory tasks. Thirteen children with SLI and 13 age-matched ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2003
Working Memory Capacity and Language Processes in Children With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Klara Marton
    Brooklyn College, City University of New York
  • Richard G. Schwartz
    Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Contact author: Klara Marton, PhD, Department of Speech Communication Arts and Sciences, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210. E-mail: kmarton@brooklyn.cuny.edu
Article Information
Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2003
Working Memory Capacity and Language Processes in Children With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2003, Vol. 46, 1138-1153. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/089)
History: Received October 22, 2002 , Accepted April 10, 2003
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2003, Vol. 46, 1138-1153. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/089)
History: Received October 22, 2002; Accepted April 10, 2003
Web of Science® Times Cited: 166

This study examined the interaction between working memory and language comprehension in children with specific language impairment (SLI), focusing on the function of the central executive component and its interaction with the phonological loop (A. D. Baddeley, 1986) in complex working memory tasks. Thirteen children with SLI and 13 age-matched (age range=7;0 [years;months] to 10;0) children with typical language development participated. The tasks combined traditional nonword repetition tests and sentence comprehension by using sentences that differed in length and syntactic complexity. The children with SLI exhibited larger processing and attentional capacity limitations than their age-matched peers. Increased word length and syntactic complexity resulted in a large performance decrease in nonword repetition in both groups. There were some variations in the error pattern, which may indicate qualitative differences between the 2 groups. The performance of the children with SLI in nonword repetition, across the different tasks, indicated a limitation in simultaneous processing rather than difficulty in encoding and analyzing the phonological structure of the nonwords. Furthermore, syntactic complexity had a greater effect on performance accuracy than did sentence length.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by two research grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (working memory capacity in children with SLI, R03DC41449, Klara Marton, principal investigator [PI]); input-output relationships in specific language impairment, R01DC00583, Richard G. Schwartz, PI), and by two Professional Staff Congress CUNY awards (cross-cultural investigation of phonological working memory skills in children with specific language impairment, Klara Marton, PI; prosodic factors in lexical learning, Richard G. Schwartz, PI). We thank Linda Jarmulowicz for her help in recording the stimuli and in transcribing nonwords. Special thanks to Carol Munger for her help in recruiting participants.
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