Sensitivity to Morphosyntactic Information in 3-Year-Old Children With Typical Language Development: A Feasibility Study Purpose This study tested the feasibility of a method designed to assess children's sensitivity to tense/agreement information in fronted auxiliaries during online comprehension of questions (e.g., Are the nice little dogs running?). We expected that a group of children who were proficient in auxiliary use would show this sensitivity, indicating ... Research Note
Research Note  |   March 01, 2017
Sensitivity to Morphosyntactic Information in 3-Year-Old Children With Typical Language Development: A Feasibility Study
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Patricia Deevy
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Virginia A. Marchman
    Stanford University, CA
  • 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 Patricia Deevy: deevy@purdue.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Sarita Eisenberg
    Associate Editor: Sarita Eisenberg×
Article Information
Development / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Notes
Research Note   |   March 01, 2017
Sensitivity to Morphosyntactic Information in 3-Year-Old Children With Typical Language Development: A Feasibility Study
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 2017, Vol. 60, 668-674. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0153
History: Received April 28, 2015 , Revised September 10, 2015 , Accepted May 9, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 2017, Vol. 60, 668-674. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0153
History: Received April 28, 2015; Revised September 10, 2015; Accepted May 9, 2016
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose This study tested the feasibility of a method designed to assess children's sensitivity to tense/agreement information in fronted auxiliaries during online comprehension of questions (e.g., Are the nice little dogs running?). We expected that a group of children who were proficient in auxiliary use would show this sensitivity, indicating an awareness of the relation between the subject–verb sequence (e.g., dogs running) and preceding information (e.g., are). Failure to grasp this relation is proposed to play a role in the protracted inconsistency in auxiliary use in children with specific language impairment (SLI).

Method Fifteen 3-year-old typically developing children who demonstrated proficiency in auxiliary use viewed pairs of pictures showing a single agent and multiple agents while hearing questions with or without an agreeing fronted auxiliary. Proportion looking to the target was measured.

Results Children showed anticipatory looking on the basis of the number information contained in the auxiliary (is or are).

Conclusions The children tested in this study represent a group that frequently serves as a comparison for older children with SLI. Because the method successfully demonstrated their sensitivity to tense/agreement information in questions, future research that involves direct comparisons of these 2 groups is warranted.

Acknowledgment
This research was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R21 DC 13334.
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