Background: Sensitivity to perceptual context (anchoring) has been suggested to contribute to the development of both oral- and written-language skills, but studies of this idea in children have been rare. Aims: To determine whether deficient anchoring contributes to the phonological memory and word learning deficits of children with specific language impairment (SLI). Methods and procedures: 84 preschool children with and without SLI participated in the study. Anchoring to repeated items was evaluated in two tasks - a phonological memory task and a pseudo-word learning task. Outcomes and results: Compared to children with typical development, children with SLI had poorer phonological memory spans and learned fewer words during the word learning task. In both tasks the poorer performance of children with SLI reflected a smaller effect of anchoring that was manifested in a smaller effect of item repetition on performance. Furthermore, across the entire sample anchoring was significantly correlated with performance in vocabulary and grammar tasks. Conclusions and implications: These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that anchoring contributes to language skills and that children with SLI have impaired anchoring, although further studies are required to determine the role of anchoring in language development.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grants 1842/07 and 112/13 ). We thank the participating children, their parents and their teachers for making this study possible; Dorit Nesher and Noga Bar-Ziv for help with data collection and Neta Yuval-Weiss and Oved Yitzhaki who collected the data discussed in Section 4.3 . We also thank Merav Ahissar, Eva Kimel, Bracha Nir and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and advice on various aspects of this work.
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
- Developmental language disorder
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Clinical Psychology