Semantic Processing of Sentences in Preschoolers With Specific Language Impairment: Evidence From the N400 Effect Purpose Given the complexity of sentence processing and the specific problems that children with specific language impairment (SLI) experience, we investigated the time course and characteristics of semantic processing at the sentence level in Dutch preschoolers with SLI. Method We measured N400 responses to semantically congruent and incongruent ... Research Article
Research Article  |   March 01, 2017
Semantic Processing of Sentences in Preschoolers With Specific Language Impairment: Evidence From the N400 Effect
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Judith Pijnacker
    Royal Dutch Kentalis, Sint-Michielsgestel, the Netherlands
  • Nina Davids
    Royal Dutch Kentalis, Sint-Michielsgestel, the Netherlands
  • Marjolijn van Weerdenburg
    Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands
  • Ludo Verhoeven
    Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands
  • Harry Knoors
    Royal Dutch Kentalis, Sint-Michielsgestel, the Netherlands
    Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands
  • Petra van Alphen
    Royal Dutch Kentalis, Sint-Michielsgestel, the Netherlands
  • 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 Petra van Alphen: p.vanalphen@kentalis.nl
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Lizbeth Finestack
    Associate Editor: Lizbeth Finestack×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   March 01, 2017
Semantic Processing of Sentences in Preschoolers With Specific Language Impairment: Evidence From the N400 Effect
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 2017, Vol. 60, 627-639. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0299
History: Received August 25, 2015 , Revised January 31, 2016 , Accepted August 9, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 2017, Vol. 60, 627-639. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0299
History: Received August 25, 2015; Revised January 31, 2016; Accepted August 9, 2016
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose Given the complexity of sentence processing and the specific problems that children with specific language impairment (SLI) experience, we investigated the time course and characteristics of semantic processing at the sentence level in Dutch preschoolers with SLI.

Method We measured N400 responses to semantically congruent and incongruent spoken sentences (e.g., “My father is eating an apple/*blanket”) in a group of 37 Dutch preschoolers with SLI and in a group of 25 typically developing (TD) peers. We compared the time course and amplitude of the N400 effect between the two groups.

Results The TD group showed a strong posterior N400 effect in time windows 300–500 ms and 500–800 ms. In contrast, the SLI group demonstrated only a reliable N400 effect in the later time window, 500–800 ms, and did not show a stronger presence at posterior electrodes.

Conclusion The findings suggest that the neuronal processing of semantic information at sentence level is atypical in preschoolers with SLI compared with TD children.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by Grant 1001-074 from NutsOhra Fund, awarded to the research group, and by Royal Dutch Kentalis. We thank Yoranique Klijnstra, Leoni Verweij, Aysa Dawson, Ayla Stehouwer, and Sophie ten Heggeler for their help with testing the children. A warm thank you is extended to all of the children and their parents who took part in this study, and to the schools and centers that assisted in the recruitment of participants and hosting of this research.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access