Why Words Are Hard for Adults With Developmental Language Impairments PurposeTo determine whether word learning problems associated with developmental language impairment (LI) reflect deficits in encoding or subsequent remembering of forms and meanings.MethodSixty-nine 18- to 25-year-olds with LI or without (the normal development [ND] group) took tests to measure learning of 16 word forms and meanings immediately after training (encoding) ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2013
Why Words Are Hard for Adults With Developmental Language Impairments
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Karla K. McGregor
    The University of Iowa
  • Ulla Licandro
    The University of Iowa
  • Richard Arenas
    The University of Iowa
  • Nichole Eden
    The University of Iowa
  • Derek Stiles
    The University of Iowa
  • Allison Bean
    The University of Iowa
  • Elizabeth Walker
    The University of Iowa
  • Disclosure:The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure:The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Karla K. McGregor: karla-mcgregor@uiowa.edu
  • Ulla Licandro is now at the Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany; Richard Arenas is now at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Derek Stiles is now at Rush University, Chicago, IL; and Allison Bean is now at The Ohio State University, Columbus.
    Ulla Licandro is now at the Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany; Richard Arenas is now at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Derek Stiles is now at Rush University, Chicago, IL; and Allison Bean is now at The Ohio State University, Columbus.×
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Marc Joanisse
    Associate Editor: Marc Joanisse×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Article
Research Article   |   December 01, 2013
Why Words Are Hard for Adults With Developmental Language Impairments
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2013, Vol. 56, 1845-1856. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0233)
History: Received July 20, 2012 , Revised December 31, 2012 , Accepted April 8, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2013, Vol. 56, 1845-1856. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0233)
History: Received July 20, 2012; Revised December 31, 2012; Accepted April 8, 2013

PurposeTo determine whether word learning problems associated with developmental language impairment (LI) reflect deficits in encoding or subsequent remembering of forms and meanings.

MethodSixty-nine 18- to 25-year-olds with LI or without (the normal development [ND] group) took tests to measure learning of 16 word forms and meanings immediately after training (encoding) and 12 hr, 24 hr, and 1 week later (remembering). Half of the participants trained in the morning, and half trained in the evening.

ResultsAt immediate posttest, participants with LI performed more poorly on form and meaning than those with ND. Poor performance was more likely among those with more severe LI. The LI–ND gap for word form recall widened over 1 week. In contrast, the LI and ND groups demonstrated no difference in remembering word meanings over the week. In both groups, participants who trained in the evening, and therefore slept shortly after training, demonstrated greater gains in meaning recall than those who trained in the morning.

ConclusionsSome adults with LI have encoding deficits that limit the addition of word forms and meanings to the lexicon. Similarities and differences in patterns of remembering in the LI and ND groups motivate the hypothesis that consolidation of declarative memory is a strength for adults with LI.

Acknowledgments
We thank Amanda Berns, Tim Arbisi-Kelm, Alison Bahnsen, Ashley Farris-Trimble, Joanna Lee, Megan Richards, Rachel See, Emily Czerniejewski, Gwyneth Rost, and Katy Mueller for their assistance. Mark Harris at the University of Iowa Student Disabilities Services was instrumental in recruitment of participants. Bob McMurray, Larissa Samuelson, and Bruce Tomblin provided helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. Portions of this article were presented at the University of Sydney in February 2011 and at the 2011 Symposium for Research on Child Language Disorders in Madison, WI. The first author gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (Grant 1R21DC009292-01) and a fellowship residency at the Obermann Center of the University of Iowa. Neither funding source played any role in the design, analysis, or writing of this study or in the decision to submit the article for publication.
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