Verbal repetition skill in language impaired children: Evidence of inefficient lexical processing?
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Speeded verbal repetition of spoken words in simple and primed conditions was used to examine lexical processing deficits in children with specific language impairment (SLI). During simple verbal repetition, children with SLI (n=18) were slower at repeating abstract verbs compared to concrete verbs. This same effect was not observed for nouns. Age matched typically developing (TD) children (n=18) showed no effect of concreteness for either verbs or nouns. During primed verbal repetition the children heard prime-target word pairs (e.g., lion-tiger) on each trial. Semantically related primes speeded verbal repetition for the TD but not SLI group, suggesting inefficient spreading activation within lexical semantics for children with SLI. Phonologically related primes (e.g., tiny) slowed verbal repetition of the target (e.g., tiger) in both groups, suggesting children with SLI were similar to their age-matched peers in lexical phonological competition. The results are generally supportive of graded deficits in lexical processing skill in SLI consistent with connectionist accounts, and approaches to therapy that combine semantic and phonological dimensions at the word level.
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