Sustained Attention in Children With Primary Language Impairment: A Meta-Analysis PurposeThis study provides a meta-analysis of the difference between children with primary or specific language impairment (LI) and their typically developing peers on tasks of sustained attention. The meta-analysis seeks to determine whether children with LI demonstrate subclinical deficits in sustained attention and, if so, under what conditions.MethodArticles that reported ... Review
Review  |   October 01, 2011
Sustained Attention in Children With Primary Language Impairment: A Meta-Analysis
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kathryn Kohnert
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Correspondence to Kerry Danahy Ebert: dana0007@umn.edu
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Marc Joanisse
    Associate Editor: Marc Joanisse×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Review   |   October 01, 2011
Sustained Attention in Children With Primary Language Impairment: A Meta-Analysis
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2011, Vol. 54, 1372-1384. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0231)
History: Received August 21, 2010 , Revised December 1, 2010 , Accepted February 24, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2011, Vol. 54, 1372-1384. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0231)
History: Received August 21, 2010; Revised December 1, 2010; Accepted February 24, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 17

PurposeThis study provides a meta-analysis of the difference between children with primary or specific language impairment (LI) and their typically developing peers on tasks of sustained attention. The meta-analysis seeks to determine whether children with LI demonstrate subclinical deficits in sustained attention and, if so, under what conditions.

MethodArticles that reported empirical data from the performance of children with LI, in comparison to typically developing peers, on a task assessing sustained attention were considered for inclusion. Twenty-eight effect sizes were included in the meta-analysis. Two moderator analyses addressed the effects of stimulus modality and attention-deficit/hypereactivity disorder exclusion. In addition, reaction time outcomes and the effects of task variables were summarized qualitatively.

ResultsThe meta-analysis supports the existence of sustained attention deficits in children with LI in both auditory and visual modalities, as demonstrated by reduced accuracy compared with typically developing peers. Larger effect sizes are found in tasks that use auditory–linguistic stimuli than in studies that use visual stimuli.

ConclusionsFuture research should consider the role that sustained attention weaknesses play in LI as well as the implications for clinical and research assessment tasks. Methodological recommendations are summarized.

Acknowledgments
Support for manuscript preparation was provided by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant 1R21DC010868. A portion of this study was presented at the 2010 annual convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
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