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Effect of verb argument structure on picture naming in children with and without specific language impairment (SLI).

journal contribution
posted on 01.11.2012, 00:00 authored by Llorenç Andreu, Mònica Sanz-Torrent, Lucia Buil Legaz, Brian MacwhinneyBrian Macwhinney

BACKGROUND: This study investigated verb argument structure effects in children with specific language impairment (SLI).

AIMS: A picture-naming paradigm was used to compare the response times and naming accuracy for nouns and verbs with differing argument structure between Spanish-speaking children with and without language impairment.

METHODS & PROCEDURES: Twenty-four children with SLI (ages 5;3-8;2 [years;months]), 24 age-matched controls (ages 5;3-8;2), 24 MLU-w controls (ages 3;3-7;1 years), and 31 adults participated in a picture-naming study.

OUTCOMES & RESULTS: The results show all groups produced more correct responses and were faster for nouns than all verbs together. As regards verb type accuracy, there were no differences between groups in naming one-argument verbs. However, for both two- and three-argument verbs, children with SLI were less accurate than adults and age-matched controls, but similar to the MLU-matched controls. For verb type latency, children with SLI were slower than both the age-matched controls and adults for one- and two-argument verbs, while no differences were found in three-argument verbs. No differences were found between children with SLI and MLU-matched controls for any verb type.

CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: It has been shown that the naming of verbs is delayed in Spanish children with SLI. It is suggested that children with SLI may have problems encoding semantic representations.