Lexical Decay During Online Sentence Processing in Adults With Specific Language Impairment Purpose Decay of memory traces is an important component of many theories of working memory, but there is conflicting evidence on whether the rate of decay differs for individuals with specific language impairment (SLI) as compared to peers with typical language. The authors tested the hypothesis that adults with SLI ... Research Note
Research Note  |   December 01, 2014
Lexical Decay During Online Sentence Processing in Adults With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Gerard H. Poll
    Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL
  • Holly S. Watkins
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • Carol A. Miller
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • 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.×
  • Holly S. Watkins is now at The University of Texas at Dallas.
    Holly S. Watkins is now at The University of Texas at Dallas.×
  • Correspondence to Gerard H. Poll: gerard.poll@elmhurst.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Kristine Lundgren
    Associate Editor: Kristine Lundgren×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Notes
Research Note   |   December 01, 2014
Lexical Decay During Online Sentence Processing in Adults With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2014, Vol. 57, 2253-2260. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0265
History: Received September 29, 2013 , Revised March 12, 2014 , Accepted August 6, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2014, Vol. 57, 2253-2260. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0265
History: Received September 29, 2013; Revised March 12, 2014; Accepted August 6, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Purpose Decay of memory traces is an important component of many theories of working memory, but there is conflicting evidence on whether the rate of decay differs for individuals with specific language impairment (SLI) as compared to peers with typical language. The authors tested the hypothesis that adults with SLI have a slower decay rate.

Method Twenty adults with SLI, ages 18–27 years, and 23 age-matched peers identified target words in sentences. Sentences were presented at normal and slow rates. Participants separately judged whether a picture and sentence matched in meaning as a measure of sentence processing efficiency.

Results After controlling for sentence processing efficiency, the group with SLI was slower to detect words in sentences. Response times for the group with SLI increased less in the slow condition as compared to the group with typical language, resulting in a Group × Presentation Rate interaction.

Conclusions The Group × Presentation Rate interaction is consistent with a slower lexical decay rate for adults with SLI, but differences in the ability to manage interference could not be ruled out. The findings suggest that decay rate differences may play a role in the working memory limitations found in individuals with SLI.

Acknowledgments
We thank Janet van Hell for supporting the development of this study. This study was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders under Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award 1F31DC010960 (Gerard H. Poll, Principal Investigator). The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect any official position of the National Institutes of Health. This study was the basis of an honors thesis completed by the second author, who was also supported during development of this study by the Ronald McNair Scholars Program at The Pennsylvania State University. We also thank Marlea O'Brien, Connie Ferguson, Marcia St. Clair, and Bruce Tomblin for their generous help with participant recruiting, and we thank the adults who participated in the study.
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