Using Pupillometry to Investigate Sentence Comprehension in Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment Purpose In this study pupillometry was used to investigate the allocation of attentional resources associated with sentence comprehension in children with and without specific language impairment (SLI). Method Eighteen children with SLI (age: M = 6.4 years) and 18 typically developing (TD) children (age: M = 6.3 years) ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 10, 2017
Using Pupillometry to Investigate Sentence Comprehension in Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jarrad A. G. Lum
    Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, School of Psychology, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • George J. Youssef
    Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, School of Psychology, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Gillian M. Clark
    Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, School of Psychology, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 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 Jarrad A. G. Lum: jarrad.lum@deakin.edu.au
  • Editor: Sean Redmond
    Editor: Sean Redmond×
  • Associate Editor: Lisa Archibald
    Associate Editor: Lisa Archibald×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 10, 2017
Using Pupillometry to Investigate Sentence Comprehension in Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2017, Vol. 60, 1648-1660. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0158
History: Received April 18, 2016 , Revised October 9, 2016 , Accepted January 19, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2017, Vol. 60, 1648-1660. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0158
History: Received April 18, 2016; Revised October 9, 2016; Accepted January 19, 2017

Purpose In this study pupillometry was used to investigate the allocation of attentional resources associated with sentence comprehension in children with and without specific language impairment (SLI).

Method Eighteen children with SLI (age: M = 6.4 years) and 18 typically developing (TD) children (age: M = 6.3 years) participated in the study. A sentence comprehension task was presented that comprised items designated as easy or hard. Easy sentences contained 4 or 5 words, and hard sentences contained 6 or 7 words.

Results For the TD group, pupil size was significantly larger when comprehending hard sentences compared with easy sentences. There was no effect of sentence difficulty on pupil size in the SLI group. Comparisons between groups revealed pupil sizes for the SLI group were significantly larger than those for the TD group for easy sentences. There were no group differences for the hard sentences.

Conclusion In TD children, pupillometry was sensitive to the attentional demands associated with sentence comprehension. Between-subjects comparisons indicated that the TD group allocated less attention than did the children with SLI for the easy sentences but not for the hard sentences. This study provides evidence of attentional differences between children with SLI and TD children under conditions of low processing demands.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by Deakin University Central Grants Research Scheme 25178 awarded to J. A. G. Lum. We thank all the children that took part in this study and the schools that supported this project. We thank Lisa Archibald for her valuable assistance with interpreting the pupillometry data.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access