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Do statistical segmentation abilities predict lexical-phonological and lexical-semantic abilities in children with and without SLI?*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2013

ELINA MAINELA-ARNOLD*
Affiliation:
University of Toronto, ON, Canada
JULIA L. EVANS
Affiliation:
Speech Language and Hearing Sciences and Joint Doctoral Program in Language & Communication Disorders, SDSU/UCSD, San Diego, CA, USA
*
Address for correspondence: Elina Mainela-Arnold, Department of Speech-Language Pathology, Rehabilitation Sciences Building, 500 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7, Canada. tel: 1-416-978-8331; e-mail: elina.mainela.arnold@utoronto.ca

Abstract

This study tested the predictions of the procedural deficit hypothesis by investigating the relationship between sequential statistical learning and two aspects of lexical ability, lexical-phonological and lexical-semantic, in children with and without specific language impairment (SLI). Participants included forty children (ages 8;5–12;3), twenty children with SLI and twenty with typical development. Children completed Saffran's statistical word segmentation task, a lexical-phonological access task (gating task), and a word definition task. Poor statistical learners were also poor at managing lexical-phonological competition during the gating task. However, statistical learning was not a significant predictor of semantic richness in word definitions. The ability to track statistical sequential regularities may be important for learning the inherently sequential structure of lexical-phonological, but not as important for learning lexical-semantic knowledge. Consistent with the procedural/declarative memory distinction, the brain networks associated with the two types of lexical learning are likely to have different learning properties.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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Footnotes

[*]

This research was supported by two grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (F31 DC 6536, Elina Mainela-Arnold, Principal Investigator, and R01 DC 5650, Julia Evans, Principal Investigator). We thank Lisbeth Heilmann for her assistance in collecting the data. Parts of this research were reported at the Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders in Madison, Wisconsin, June 2011 and June 2012, and the American Speech Language Hearing Association Conference in San Diego, CA, November 2011.

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