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On the nature and cause of Specific Language Impairment: a view from sentence processing and infant research

By Theodoros Marinis

Abstract

This paper addresses the nature and cause of Specific Language Impairment (SLI) by reviewing recent research in sentence processing of children with SLI compared to typically developing (TD) children and research in infant speech perception. These studies have revealed that children with SLI are sensitive to syntactic, semantic, and real-world information, but do not show sensitivity to grammatical morphemes with low phonetic saliency, and they show longer reaction times than age-matched controls. TD children from the age of 4 show trace reactivation, but some children with SLI fail to show this effect, which resembles the pattern of adults and TD children with low working memory. Finally, findings from the German Language Development (GLAD) Project have revealed that a group of children at risk for SLI had a history of an auditory delay and impaired processing of prosodic information in the first months of their life, which is not detectable later in life. Although this is a single project that needs to be replicated with a larger group of children, it provides preliminary support for accounts of SLI which make an explicit link between an early deficit in the processing of phonology and later language deficits, and the Computational Complexity Hypothesis that argues that the language deficit in children with SLI lies in difficulties integrating different types of information at the interfaces

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:17255

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