IS01 nih and nidcd: What Language Researchers Need to Know

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NIH and NIDCD: What Language Researchers Need to Know

Judith A. Cooper; NIDCD/NIH

NIH and the research community are facing a myriad of changes and challenges. It is critical for those who hope for NIH funding to be current and knowledgeable, for the benefit of themselves and the individuals they mentor. Researchers in child language ARE being funded and NIH maintains an ongoing commitment to supporting that research. This presentation will address topics of importance to new as well as more senior researchers. Discussion will include critical updates about NIH, opportunities for beginning researchers, recent trends in language research, and where to go for help.

On-Line Analysis of Neural Activation Using Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy: Exploring Neural Activation Patterns During Cognitive, Linguistic and Communication Tasks

Ron Gillam; Utah State University

This presentation will explore the usefulness of functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) as an instrument that could yield data that contributes to our understanding of SLI. NIRS is a non-invasive neuroimaging technology that detects cortical increases and decreases in the concentration of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin at multiple measurement sites. NIRS has some advantages over some other neuroimaging techniques for assessing cognitive, linguistic, and communicative processing. For example, NIRS has better temporal resolution than fMRI and better spatial resolution than EEG, it can be used in natural experimental settings and NIRS measures are minimally susceptible to speech related motion. Children can sit in chairs at a desk and talk to examiners or other participants while being imaged. Pilot studies will be presented that compare the neural activation patterns of children with SLI and typically-developing controls as they perform a working memory task (n-back) and a complex sentence comprehension task. Data will also be presented from a study employing a technique called hyperscanning that enables us to image the brains of pairs of individuals simultaneously as they engage in cooperative or competitive communication tasks. Data from these studies suggest that NIRS has the potential to inform our understanding of the extent and variability of neural activation related to language and communication impairments in children with SLI. This work was funded by and internal grant from Utah State University and the Raymond and Eloise Lillywhite Endowment.

Language variation within the autism spectrum: where it comes from and why it matters

Courtenay Frazier Norbury; University of London

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterised by profound deficits in social interaction and social communication, in addition to a restricted range of interests and behaviours. Both core deficits should present great challenges for language acquisition, yet many children with ASD are able to acquire age-appropriate structural aspects of language and impressive vocabularies. Discovering how children with ASD learn language in the face of social-cognitive differences highlights additional risk factors that further impede language learning for many children with ASD. A multifactorial approach to understanding language variation will be considered, outlining protective factors that may promote language development in some individuals with ASD. In addition, I will argue that factors that likely increase risk for language impairment may be shared with other neurodevelopmental disorders and point to possible avenues for intervention.

Markers, models, and measurement error: Exploring the links between attention deficits and language impairments

Sean Redmond; University of Utah

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) applies to a behavioral profile of difficulties that include developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity and is one of the most commonly diagnosed pediatric conditions worldwide. In therapeutic settings, ADHD frequently co-occurs with other behavioral and neurodevelopmental disorders, including language impairment (LI). This has encouraged consideration of the possibility that ADHD and LI might be etiologically linked. In this talk, I will review the mixture of supports and challenges that characterizes the current evidence base on this issue. I will suggest that a large portion of the cross-signals can be resolved when the clinical metrics that have been used to assign LI and ADHD statuses are partitioned. Measures of verbal memory and morphosyntactic proficiency appear to be well-suited to the task of differentiating LI from ADHD whereas measures of vocabulary, verbal IQ, and pragmatic competence appear to be poorer options. Similarly, parental ratings of hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms have been better at segregating ADHD from LI than ratings of inattention, ratings from teachers, indices from continuous performance tests, or executive function measures. I will present new evidence from cases of co-occurring ADHD+LI which suggest that the presence of ADHD within the profiles of children with LI does not contribute to the severity of their language impairments. Different models of LI, ADHD, and Reading Disability linkages will be considered as well. I will conclude with the suggestion that moving forward, study samples of ADHD will provide a better comparison group for testing key assumptions of emerging models of language impairment (e.g. information processing deficits, implicit learning/procedural memory deficits) than groups of typical developing children. This research has been funded by grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R03DC008382; R01DC011023).

Deficits in Word Form Encoding Characterize Developmental Learning Disability

Karla McGregor; Univeristy of Iowa, University of Sydney

Even as young adults, people with developmental learning disability (LD) have difficulty learning new word forms. To determine the source of the problem, we examined word form encoding, retention, and integration over the course of one week. Thirty students with LD and 40 without were taught 12 novel words and referents via 12 passive exposures. Immediately after teaching, we measured encoding via form recognition and recall. One week later, we measured retention via repetition of the recall task and integration via a visual world competition paradigm. At immediate posttest, the LI group did not differ from peers on recognition of form but they were poorer at recall. The recall gap remained equivalent in size one week later; therefore, retention over time did not differ between groups. Responses to the visual world paradigm suggested good integration of word forms into the lexicon on the part of the LD group. We conclude that word form learning problems associated with LD are rooted in encoding deficits. NIH-NIDCD-5R01DC011742-02.

Acquisition of Embedded Indirect Question forms in Typically Developing and Language Impaired African American Children

Valerie Johnson; Montclair State University

Peter de Villiers; Smith College

This study examines the acquisition of an aspect of AAE complex syntax in typically-developing and language-impaired children. Cross-sectional data come from 529 children (291 AAE-speakers) aged 4 to 9 participating in field-testing of the DELV-NR. The Communicative Role Taking subtest elicited two embedded question forms. Unlike MAE, AAE allows inversion of the embedded clause subject and auxiliary, although these forma are marked as indirect speech by changes in the pronoun. We coded elicited indirect questions for production of AAE or MAE forms. AUX-inverted embedded questions were overwhelmingly produced by AAE-speakers, not by MAE-speakers. They were only produced for indirect questions, not for indirect statements, in keeping with the grammar of AAE. TD AAE-speakers produced the AAE form for nearly 90% of their embedded questions by age 6, but production of these forms was significantly delayed in LI AAE-speaking children, not becoming frequent until age 8. Elicitation of these forms could therefore be a valuable part of any comprehensive language assessment of AA children’s AAE. Funding: NIDCD N01 DC8-2104

Interference control in children with neurodevelopmental disorders: specific language impairment, autism, attention deficit disorder

Klara Marton; Graduate Center, City University of New York & Eotvos Lorand University

Zsuzsanna Suranyi; Karoli Gaspar University
Timea Egri; Faculty of Special Education, Eotvos Lorand University

This study focused on proactive interference in children with specific language impairment (SLI), high functioning autism, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), and typical development. Proactive interference is about resisting memory traces (Friedman & Miyake, 2004) that may hinder efficient information processing, such as suppressing irrelevant information from previous tasks.

Participants included 20 children with SLI; 20 children with autism, 19 children with ADHD, and 20 age-matched controls; all were 8-10 years of age with typical nonverbal IQ (>85). We used an experimental conflict paradigm, in which previous target items served as distractors in subsequent tasks. All children were negatively affected by the increase in interference, as shown in their decreased accuracy rate, but the change from the baseline was greater in the groups with neurodevelopmental disorders than in controls. Children with neurodevelopmental disorders showed poor resistance to proactive interference; they exhibited a weakness in differentiating between task-relevant items and irrelevant ones, and in suppressing irrelevant information. The 3 clinical groups (SLI, autism, ADHD) showed different performance profiles consistent with their diagnosis.
Do maternal gesture-speech combinations provide a helping hand for language development in autism?

Nevena Dimitrova; Georgia State University

Seyda Özçaliskan; Georgia State University
Lauren B. Adamson; Georgia State University

In this study we ask whether mothers of typically developing (TD) children and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) differ in their use of gesture in relation to speech and whether this has any effect on children’s language outcome. We coded the gesture-speech combinations produced by mothers of 23 TD children (Mage=18-months) and 23 children with ASD (Mage=30-months). We found no effect of group on the way maternal gestures related to speech. We also found that gesture-speech complexity mattered—but only for the TD group, with an association between more complex maternal gesture-speech combinations and children’s vocabulary one-year later. Our results suggest that mothers of children with ASD do not mirror their children, but instead show patterns similar to mothers of TD children in the way they relate gesture to speech. However, the facilitative effect of maternal complex gesture-speech combinations on language development for TD children may not occur as readily for children with ASD. Grant support: Swiss National Science Foundation (Dimitrova, PI), R01HD035612 (Adamson, PI) and NSF-BCS1251337 (Özçaliskan, PI).

Lexical Processing in School-Age Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

Eileen Haebig; University of Wisconsin - Madison

Ishanti Gangopadhyay; University of Wisconsin - Madison
Heidi Sindberg; Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Susan Ellis Weismer; University of Wisconsin - Madison
Margarita Kaushanskaya; University of Wisconsin - Madison

Social communication is a core deficit in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). While previous work has characterized language abilities in ASD, work specifically studying semantic knowledge is scarce and contains mixed results. This study sought to better characterize semantic knowledge in children with ASD. We assessed responses to a lexical decision task, with 20 high and 20 low semantic-network-size words and 40 nonwords. Mixed effect logistic regression and linear regression models revealed that semantic neighborhood size impacts accuracy and RT. Children with typical development and ASD had higher accuracy and faster RT for higher semantic-network-size words, controlling for receptive vocabulary and cognition. Linear regressions tested whether performance on separate assessments of cognition, receptive vocabulary, and syntax explained variance in lexical decisions. There were no unique predictors for real word accuracy or RT. However, nonword lexical decisions were predicted by receptive vocabulary knowledge in typically developing children; conversely, syntax and general cognitive skills uniquely predicted nonword judgments in children with ASD.

Funding: R01DC011750-02, T32DC005359, T32HD04989908, F31DC013485-01, P30HD03352

Filler Disfluencies in High Functioning Autism, Optimal Outcome, and Typical Development: A Marker of Pragmatic Language Skills

Christina Irvine; University of Connecticut

Inge-Marie Eigsti; University of Connecticut
Deborah Fein; University of Connecticut

Spontaneous speech is marked by the presence of frequent disfluencies. Fillers like um and uh each serve distinct pragmatic functions. Prior evidence suggests that adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (ASD) fail to produce listener-oriented fillers. The current study examines the production of pragmatic fillers in spontaneous speech among individuals who have achieved “optimal outcomes” (OO) from ASD.

Speech samples from 64 individuals ages 8-21 with OO, ASD, and typical development (TD) were analyzed for um and uh production. Participants with HFA produced um significantly less frequently. TD and OO groups did not differ. Um rate was also inversely correlated with ASD severity within the HFA group.
Participants with ASD produced listener-oriented fillers less frequently than peers, highlighting the unique social communicative function of these markers. Furthermore, individuals with OO show typical production of this pragmatic language function. This strongly substantiates the broader normalization of language and social abilities in OO and the possibility of genuine recovery from ASD. Funding: National Institutes of Mental Health (R01MH076189)

Relationship between African American English Dialect Usage, Language Disorder Risk Status, and Written Fluency in African American Students in Urban Settings

Erin FitzPatrick; Georgia State University

Nicole Patton-Terry; Georgia State University
Julie Washington; Georgia State University
Debra McKeown; Georgia State University

The purpose of this study is to investigate the written language fluency skills of school-aged African American children who speak African American English (AAE) and vary in their risk for language disorder. Students in grades 1-4 were given the Story Composition subtest of the Test of Written Language, 4th Edition (TOWL-4), and fluency was measured by word count. AAE use and risk for language disorder were measured with the Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation-Screening Test (DELV-S). Preliminary analyses suggest that students who speak with some or strong variation from mainstream American English (MAE) and students with the most risk for a language disorder demonstrate poorer written language fluency. This research was funded by NICHD grant No. 1 R24 HD075454-01 (Washington, Patton Terry, & Seidenberg, PIs) and a doctoral fellowship to the first author from the Language and Literacy Initiative at Georgia State University.

Narrative Intervention for Children with Autism: Targeting Core Symptoms

Daphne Hartzheim; Utah State University

Rebecca Roylance; Utah State University
Sarah Clement; Utah State University
Emily Chandler; Utah State University
Dr. Sandra Laing Gillam; Utah State University
Ron Gillam; Utah State University

The purpose of this study was to test whether a fully developed program designed to teach narrative language skills was effective in increasing narrative proficiency, and knowledge of mental state and causal language for 5 children with high functioning autism (ASD). Children between the ages of 8-12 participated in a multiple-baseline across participants, single subject design study. Children were asked to retell and create stories for a baseline period and weekly during the intervention period. Children begin intervention in a staggered fashion as they demonstrated stable baselines and/or stable improvement in oral narratives. Time spent in intervention ranged from 19-32, 45-minute individual sessions. Children demonstrated clear, observable gains in narrative proficiency and knowledge of mental state and causal language. Individual variability was observed and is discussed.

High Frequency Audibility and its Effect on Language Outcomes in Children with Mild to Severe Hearing Loss

Keegan Koehlinger; Boys Town National Research Hospital

Amanda Van Horne; University of Iowa
Jacob Oleson; University of Iowa
Mary Pat Moeller; Boys Town National Research Hospital

Children who are hard of hearing (HH) are believed to be at a greater risk for delayed morphological development in part due to reduced audibility of high frequency phonemes /s/ and /z/. This study examined the articulation skills (measured via the Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation-2, and word final /s, z/ production) and accuracy of use of s- related morphemes (plural, possessive, third person singular –s, and auxiliary and copula is) and their realized allomorphs of 51 HH 3 year olds (better ear pure tone average (BE-PTA) M= 49.89 db HL). Hearing measures included BE-PTA, unaided SII, and a measure of aided sensation level at 4 kHz (4 kHz SL). 4kHz SL scores (p<.0001) and GFTA raw scores (p=.0004) predicted morphological accuracy but influenced the use of allomorphs differently. Results suggest that both high frequency hearing and articulation skills play a role in the acquisition of morphology. Future work should include examination of the impact of audibility at even higher frequencies. Supported by NIDCD R01 DC009660.

Grammar patterns based on English input in Spanish-English bilingual children

Alisa Baron; The University of Texas at Austin

Lisa Bedore; The University of Texas at Austin
Elizabeth Peña; The University of Texas at Austin

There is a growing need for definable norms for English-Spanish bilinguals to better assess and distinguish between typical and atypical communication in this population. The purpose of this study was to determine English and Spanish grammatical morpheme accuracy for English-Spanish bilingual children based on their amount of English input at school. Data was used from two existing datasets, teacher questionnaires, and the BESA (Bilingual English Spanish Assessment) (Pena, et al., 2013) morphosyntax items in children from Texas, Utah, and Pennsylvania). Using these data, we compared amount of English input in school with proportion of correct morpheme use. We present patterns of English and Spanish grammatical morpheme acquisition in bilingual children as related to English input in school. Results show that while amount of English input increases, there are similarities in peak performance within each language, but differences between languages. When identifying language impairment in bilinguals, these results will better inform clinicians of typical bilingual language acquisition by level of English input in the schools. Funded by: NIH R01 DC007439 and NIH N01 DC82100

Third Grade Predictors of Eighth Grade Reading Achievement and Interest

Courtney Karasinski; Grand Valley State University

Kirk Anderson; Grand Valley State University

This study investigated the relations among third grade reading achievement, self-perceived interest/competence in reading, and behavior problems with eighth grade reading achievement. Understanding these relations could benefit the development of educational policy and theory.

Children participating in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Kindergarten Class (n=8775) were administered a reading assessment and completed the Self-Description Questionnaire, evaluating internalizing and externalizing behavior problems and interest/competence in reading, in third and eighth grades. Regression modeling revealed that, together, third grade interest/competence and behavior problems accounted for an additional 7% of the variance in eighth grade reading achievement beyond variance accounted for by SES. This suggests that motivation may play only a minor role in reading achievement. Third grade reading achievement accounted for an additional 25% of the variance in eighth grade reading achievement, supporting the notion of a “Matthew effect” in reading. Funding: Grand Valley State University Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence Grant-in-Aid
Two is better than one: Classification Accuracy of a Bilingual Test

Elizabeth Peña; University of Texas at Austin

Lisa Bedore; University of Texas at Austin

Diagnosis of language impairment (LI) in bilingual children is challenging. Developmental linguistic errors of children with LI and typically developing (TD) bilinguals overlap. Variability in the onset of L2 learning and patterns of input and output in each language lead to fluctuations in language performance. Bilinguals show mixed dominance by domain, performing better in one language for some tasks and in the other for other tasks. In this study, we evaluate the patterns of performance for bilingual Spanish-English speakers on the semantics and morphosyntax subtests of the Bilingual English Spanish Assessment. We compare classification accuracy for each domain when using one language alone and when used in combination. Cross-domain, cross-language solutions will also be explored and presented. Supported by NIH Contract N01-DC-8-2100

Collaborative Elements of Narrative Composition: A Descriptive Clinical Case Study

Mary Kubalanza; University of IL at Urbana-Champaign

Cynthia Johnson; University of IL at Urbana-Champaign
Julie Hengst; University of IL at Urbana-Champaign

This case study comes from a larger single-case intervention study of emergent writing in children with language impairments. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected to describe the collaborative nature of the writing process during intervention and to document characteristics of the child’s personal narratives. To examine collaboration, sessions were coded for the narrative mentoring strategies employed by the interventionist, as well as statements or behaviors that revealed a shift in the locus of control. The collaborative aspects of spoken and dictated storytelling appear to have allowed the child to contribute a greater number of story components when compared to independent writing. Moreover, the linguistic specificity of contributions was shifting from a reliance on pronominal referents to an increasing number of specific lexical nouns and verbs, and the nature of clinician prompting was becoming less directive during intervention.

Examining Dosage Through the Lens of Fidelity

Maura Curran; University of Iowa

Amanda Owen Van Horne; University of Iowa

In this systematic review & meta-analysis we examined the literature on the use of recasts as a therapy technique through the lenses of dosage and fidelity. It is known that dosage can affect treatment outcome, but the effect of fidelity on dosage and degree of change is not well documented. We first asked whether recast rate influenced the magnitude of the effects observed. Then we asked whether treatment fidelity affected dosage sufficiently that it might affect those outcomes. PsychInfo, PubMed and EBSCOhost were searched for articles related to expressive language intervention. Articles were included in the analyses if they contained enough data to allow for computation of effect size, focused on children with language impairment, and used recasting as a treatment technique. Results allow us to examine the association between fidelity, dosage and outcomes. Implications include recommendations for information reported in treatment studies and best practices in intervention. Funded by a ASHFoundation Grant awarded to Owen Van Horne.


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