A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Investigation of Verbal Working Memory in Adolescents With Specific Language Impairment This study used neuroimaging and behavioral techniques to examine the claim that processing capacity limitations underlie specific language impairment (SLI). Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate verbal working memory in adolescents with SLI and normal language (NL) controls. The experimental task involved a modified listening span measure ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2005
A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Investigation of Verbal Working Memory in Adolescents With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Susan Ellis Weismer
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Elena Plante
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Maura Jones
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • J. Bruce Tomblin
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Contact author: Susan Ellis Weismer, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin, Room 473, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705. E-mail: ellisweismer@wisc.edu
  • James Montgomery (AJSLP) served as guest associate editor on this article.
    James Montgomery (AJSLP) served as guest associate editor on this article.×
  • Maura Jones is now at Marquette University.
    Maura Jones is now at Marquette University.×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2005
A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Investigation of Verbal Working Memory in Adolescents With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2005, Vol. 48, 405-425. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/028)
History: Received September 22, 2003 , Revised April 16, 2004 , Accepted July 27, 2004
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2005, Vol. 48, 405-425. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/028)
History: Received September 22, 2003; Revised April 16, 2004; Accepted July 27, 2004
Web of Science® Times Cited: 46

This study used neuroimaging and behavioral techniques to examine the claim that processing capacity limitations underlie specific language impairment (SLI). Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate verbal working memory in adolescents with SLI and normal language (NL) controls. The experimental task involved a modified listening span measure that included sentence encoding and recognition of final words in prior sets of sentences. The SLI group performed significantly poorer than the NL group for both encoding and recognition and displayed slower reaction times for correct responses on high complexity encoding items. fMRI results revealed that the SLI group exhibited significant hypoactivation during encoding in regions that have been implicated in attentional and memory processes, as well as hypoactivation during recognition in regions associated with language processing. Correlational analyses indicated that adolescents with SLI exhibited different patterns of coordinating activation among brain regions relative to controls for both encoding and recognition, suggesting reliance on a less functional network. These findings are interpreted as supporting the notion that constraints in nonlinguistic systems play a role in SLI.

Acknowledgments
Funding for this study was provided by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant P30 HD03352 (Waisman Center core grant), University of Wisconsin Graduate School Research Committee Award, Project #020856, and National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant P50 DC02746 (Collaboration on Specific Language Impairment). We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the adolescents and their families for their willingness to travel from Iowa to Wisconsin in order to participate in this study. We give special thanks to Marlea O’Brien and Paula Buckwalter for their assistance with recruiting participants from the Iowa epidemiological study and to Xuyang Zhang for his help in providing summary information from the Collaboration on Specific Language Impairment database. Finally, we want to thank Keck Laboratory research specialists Michael Anderle and Ron Fisher and MR physicist Andy Alexander for their assistance in the collection of the imaging data.
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