Decreased Sensitivity to Long-Distance Dependencies in Children With a History of Specific Language Impairment: Electrophysiological Evidence Purpose One possible source of tense and agreement limitations in children with specific language impairment (SLI) is a weakness in appreciating structural dependencies that occur in many sentences in the input. This possibility was tested in the present study. Method Children with a history of SLI (H-SLI; n = ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2014
Decreased Sensitivity to Long-Distance Dependencies in Children With a History of Specific Language Impairment: Electrophysiological Evidence
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • J. D. Purdy
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Christine Weber-Fox
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Natalya Kaganovich
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • 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 Laurence B. Leonard: xdxl@purdue.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Andrew Whitehouse
    Associate Editor: Andrew Whitehouse×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2014
Decreased Sensitivity to Long-Distance Dependencies in Children With a History of Specific Language Impairment: Electrophysiological Evidence
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2014, Vol. 57, 1040-1059. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0176
History: Received July 5, 2013 , Revised September 20, 2013 , Accepted October 29, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2014, Vol. 57, 1040-1059. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0176
History: Received July 5, 2013; Revised September 20, 2013; Accepted October 29, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose One possible source of tense and agreement limitations in children with specific language impairment (SLI) is a weakness in appreciating structural dependencies that occur in many sentences in the input. This possibility was tested in the present study.

Method Children with a history of SLI (H-SLI; n = 12; M = 9;7 [years;months]) and typically developing same-age peers (TD; n = 12; M = 9;7) listened to and made grammaticality judgments about grammatical and ungrammatical sentences involving either a local agreement error (e.g., “Every night they talks on the phone”) or a long-distance finiteness error (e.g., “He makes the quiet boy talks a little louder”). Electrophysiological (ERP) and behavioral (accuracy) measures were obtained.

Results Local agreement errors elicited the expected anterior negativity and P600 components in both groups of children. However, relative to the TD group, the P600 effect for the long-distance finiteness errors was delayed, reduced in amplitude, and shorter in duration for the H-SLI group. The children's grammaticality judgments were consistent with the ERP findings.

Conclusion Children with H-SLI seem to be relatively insensitive to the finiteness constraints that matrix verbs place on subject–verb clauses that appear later in the sentence.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported in part by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants T32 DC00030, R01 DC009574, and R03 DC012151. We express our thanks to Patricia Deevy, Jennifer Schumaker, Bridget Walsh, Jill Bainbridge, Isaac Fox, Katherine Hingst, Evan Mattice, Dana Gustafson, Danielle Haggard, and Kevin Barlow for their assistance during various phases of this research. Appreciation is extended to the children and their families for agreeing to participate in this study. We acknowledge the advice of Dorothy Bishop, whose concerns about multiple comparisons in standard approaches to electrophysiological analyses prompted us to include the reduced factors analyses.
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