Electrophysiology of Perception and Processing of Phonological Information as Indices of Toddlers' Language Performance Purpose The toddler years are a critical period for language development and growth. We investigated how event-related potentials (ERPs) to repeated and novel nonwords are associated with clinical assessments of language in young children. In addition, nonword repetition (NWR) was used to measure phonological working memory to determine the unique ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 14, 2017
Electrophysiology of Perception and Processing of Phonological Information as Indices of Toddlers' Language Performance
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Vanessa Harwood
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
    Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT
  • Jonathan Preston
    Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT
    Syracuse University, NY
  • Bernard Grela
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Dooti Roy
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Olivia Harold
    Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT
  • Jacqueline Turcios
    Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT
    Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven
  • Kiyomi Andrada
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Nicole Landi
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
    Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT
  • 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 Vanessa Harwood: Vanessa.harwood@uconn.edu
  • Editor: Sean Redmond
    Editor: Sean Redmond×
  • Associate Editor: Lisa Archibald
    Associate Editor: Lisa Archibald×
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 14, 2017
Electrophysiology of Perception and Processing of Phonological Information as Indices of Toddlers' Language Performance
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2017, Vol. 60, 999-1011. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0437
History: Received December 21, 2015 , Revised May 2, 2016 , Accepted October 24, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2017, Vol. 60, 999-1011. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0437
History: Received December 21, 2015; Revised May 2, 2016; Accepted October 24, 2016

Purpose The toddler years are a critical period for language development and growth. We investigated how event-related potentials (ERPs) to repeated and novel nonwords are associated with clinical assessments of language in young children. In addition, nonword repetition (NWR) was used to measure phonological working memory to determine the unique and collective contribution of ERP measures of phonemic discrimination and NWR as predictors of language ability.

Method Forty children between the ages of 24–48 months participated in an ERP experiment to determine phonemic discrimination to repeated and novel nonwords in an old/new design. Participants also completed a NWR task to explore the contribution of phonological working memory in predicting language.

Results ERP analyses revealed that faster responses to novel stimuli correlated with higher language performance on clinical assessments of language. Regression analyses revealed that an earlier component was associated with lower level phonemic sensitivity, and a later component was indexing phonological working memory skills similar to NWR.

Conclusion Our findings suggest that passive ERP responses indexing phonological discrimination and phonological working memory are strongly related to behavioral measures of language.

Acknowledgments
This research is supported by a 2012 Student Research Grant in Early Childhood Language Development awarded to Vanessa Harwood by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, Rockville, MD, and a donation to Haskins Laboratories by a generous philanthropist who wishes to remain anonymous. Special thanks are given to Michael Harwood, Sayako Earle, Dana Arthur, Julia Irwin, and Peter Molfese who provided helpful suggestions about the article.
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