Title

Relation of Auditory Attention andComplex Sentence Comprehension in Children with Specific Language Impairment: APreliminary Study

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Applied Psycholinguistics

Volume

30

Publication Date

2009

First Page

123

Last Page

151

Abstract

We investigated the relation of two dimensions of attentional functioning (sustained auditory attention and resource capacity/allocation) and complex sentence comprehension of children with specific language impairment (SLI) and a group of typically developing (TD) children matched for age. Twenty-six school-age children with SLI and 26 TD peers completed an auditory continuous performance task (ACPT, measure of sustained attention), a concurrent verbal processing-storage task (measure of resource capacity/allocation), and a picture pointing comprehension task. Correlation analyses were run to determine the association between the measures of attention and sentence comprehension. The SLI group performed more poorly than the TD group across all tasks. For the SLI group, even after removing the effects of age, ACPT score and performance on the concurrent processing-storage task still significantly correlated with complex sentence comprehension. Sustained attention also correlated with simple sentence comprehension. Neither attention variable correlated with sentence comprehension in the TD children. For children with SLI, the comprehension of complex grammar appears to involve significant use of sustained attention and resource capacity/allocation. Even simple sentence comprehension requires significant auditory vigilance. In the case of TD children, neither complex nor simple sentence comprehension appears to invoke significant attentional involvement.

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