Evidence for Preserved Novel Word Learning in Down Syndrome Suggests Multiple Routes to Vocabulary Acquisition PurposeThree studies investigated novel word learning, some requiring phonological production, each involving between 11 and 17 individuals with Down syndrome, and between 15 and 24 typically developing individuals matched for receptive vocabulary. The effect of stimuli wordlikeness and incidental procedure-based memory demands were examined to see whether these may account ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2011
Evidence for Preserved Novel Word Learning in Down Syndrome Suggests Multiple Routes to Vocabulary Acquisition
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Emma K. Mosse
    University of Bristol, Avon, United Kingdom
    University of Bristol, Avon, United Kingdom
  • Christopher Jarrold
    University of Bristol, Avon, United Kingdom
    University of Bristol, Avon, United Kingdom
  • Correspondence to Christopher Jarrold: c.jarrold@bristol.ac.uk
  • Editor: Karla McGregor
    Editor: Karla McGregor×
  • Associate Editor: Nancy Brady
    Associate Editor: Nancy Brady×
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article   |   August 01, 2011
Evidence for Preserved Novel Word Learning in Down Syndrome Suggests Multiple Routes to Vocabulary Acquisition
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2011, Vol. 54, 1137-1152. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0244)
History: Received November 10, 2009 , Revised May 17, 2010 , Accepted December 14, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2011, Vol. 54, 1137-1152. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0244)
History: Received November 10, 2009; Revised May 17, 2010; Accepted December 14, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

PurposeThree studies investigated novel word learning, some requiring phonological production, each involving between 11 and 17 individuals with Down syndrome, and between 15 and 24 typically developing individuals matched for receptive vocabulary. The effect of stimuli wordlikeness and incidental procedure-based memory demands were examined to see whether these may account for an apparent impairment in word learning in Down syndrome demonstrated in earlier research.

MethodPaired associate word and nonword learning tasks were presented, requiring participants to learn the names of novel characters. The nonword stimuli varied in the degree of wordlikeness in 2 studies. A third study investigated extraneous task demand.

ResultsAcross 3 studies, there was no suggestion of a word learning deficit associated with Down syndrome (η2p for the main effect of group of .03, .11, and .03, respectively), despite the level of phonological representation required. There was evidence that novel word learning by participants with Down syndrome exceeded that which their verbal short-term memory capacity would predict.

ConclusionsVocabulary acquisition in Down syndrome may not rely on verbal short-term memory to the same extent as in typically developing children, lending support to the suggestion that new word learning may be underpinned by an additional memory process.

Acknowledgments
This research was conducted as partial requirement of a research studentship awarded to the first author by the Economic and Social Research Council (PTA-030-2005-00868). We are grateful to the staff and pupils of Air Balloon Hill Infants School (Bristol), Kingsweston School (Bristol), Ravenswood School (Nailsea), Summerhill Infant School (Bristol), and Weybourne Infant School (Farnham) for their participation in these studies. We also thank the individuals with Down syndrome and their families for their willingness to take part in home visits.
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