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Language-impaired children's real-time comprehension of spoken language

  • James W. Montgomery (a1), Rosalind R. Scudder (a2) and Christopher A. Moore (a3)


Language-impaired children have been shown to exhibit a variety of post-sentence comprehension deficits. Comprehension, however, may also be assessed as it develops rather than after it has occurred. The present investigation compared the real-time language processing abilities of language-impaired and normal children using a word recognition reaction time paradigm. Children's reaction times across three word positions in three sentence type conditions were measured. Results showed that the language-impaired children used linguistic context to facilitate word recognition, but were slower to do so than their normally developing peers. The results were interpreted to suggest that language-impaired children are less proficient than normal children at using their linguistic knowledge to develop linguistic representations of sentence meaning. An on-line retrieval deficit or deficient connections among processing units (e.g., Rumelhart & McClelland, 1986a, 1986b; Waltz & Pollack, 1985) are suggested as likely sources of the language-impaired children's language processing difficulties.


Corresponding author

James W. Montgomery, Audiology & Speech Sciences, Heavilon Hall, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907


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