Effects of Onset- and Rhyme-Related Distractors on Phonological Processing in Children With Specific Language Impairment

Seiger-Gardner, Liat; Brooks, Patricia J.
October 2008
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Oct2008, Vol. 51 Issue 5, p1263
Academic Journal
Purpose: This study used the cross-modal picture--word interference task of P. J. Brooks and B. Mac Whinney (2000) to compare effects of phonologically related words on lexical access in children with specific language impairment (SLI). Method: Children (7;1 [years; months]--11;2) named pictures while ignoring auditory distractors. Three stimulus asynchrony conditions varied the timing of distractors relative to the pictures. Experiment 1 presented onset-related (bell-bed), unrelated (clown-bed), neutral (go-bed), and identical (bed-bed) distractors. Experiment 2 presented rhyme-related instead of onset-related distractors (clock-sock). Results: Children with SLI produced longer reaction times (RTs) and more errors than their typical language development (TLD) peers. For children with SLI, onset-related distractors led to slower RTs than unrelated distractors (inhibition) when presented before the picture, and faster RTs (facilitation) when presented after the picture. Children with TLD showed facilitation from onset-related distractors when presented after the picture but no inhibition when presented before the picture. Both groups failed to show facilitation from rhyme-related distractors. Conclusions: The priming effects from onset-related distractors and lack of effects from rhyme-related distractors in SLI supports "just-in-time" incremental processing, similar to children with TLD. However, children with SLI experience phonological interference from members of a lexical cohort while accessing words. Results are discussed with respect to observed word finding and word learning difficulties in SLI.


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