Monthly Archives: June 2008

Autobiographical narratives of deaf and hearing adults: An examination of narrative coherence and the use of internal states

from Memory

Abstract
To examine the impact of early linguistic experiences on later verbal report of autobiographical memory, 13 hearing adults and 13 deaf adults born to hearing parents described events that occurred before and after the age of 10 years. The contextual, temporal, and thematic coherence of the narratives was rated. The use of emotional, perceptual, mental, and physiological states was also recorded. There were differences in the coherence of the narratives and use of internal states according to the age at which the events occurred. There were no group differences in coherence, but hearing adults provided longer narratives than deaf adults. When narrative length was controlled, deaf adults included more emotional states than hearing adults. Results suggest that early unavailability of language does not impact the coherence of adults’ narratives, although certain features of linguistic expression specific to ASL may result in greater saturation of emotional states references in autobiographical narratives of deaf adults.

Meaning making in mothers’ and children’s narratives of emotional events

from Memory

Abstract
Narrative coherence and the inclusion of mental state language are critical aspects of meaning making, especially about stressful events. Mothers and their 8- to 12-year-old children with asthma independently narrated a time they were scared, frustrated, and happy. Although mothers’ narratives were generally more coherent and more saturated with mental state language than children’s narratives, for both mothers and children narratives of negative events were more coherent and contained more mental state language than narratives of positive events overall, and narratives of scary events contained more mental state language than narratives of frustrating events. Coherence appears to be multifaceted, in that the three dimensions of coherence coded, context, chronology, and theme were not strongly interrelated within narratives of the same event, but use of mental state language, including cognitive-processing and emotion words, appears to be more integrated. Moreover, while thematic coherence seems to be a consistent individual narrative style across valence of event being narrated, mental state language appears to be a consistent style only across the two stressful event narratives. Finally, and quite surprisingly, there were virtually no relations between mothers’ and children’s narrative meaning making.

Phonological sensitivity and memory in children with a foreign language learning difficulty

from Memory

Abstract
The phonological processing and memory skills of 12- and 13-year-old Italian children with difficulty in learning English as a foreign language (foreign language learning difficulty, FLLD) were examined and compared with those of a control group matched for age and nonverbal intelligence. Three experiments were conducted. A dissociation between verbal and visuo-spatial working memory was observed when compared to the control group; children with FLLD showed a poorer performance in a phonological working memory task but performed to a comparable level in a visuo-spatial working memory task (Experiment 1). In Experiment 2 the word length and the response modality of an auditory word span task were manipulated in order to examine the efficiency of the phonological loop and the relevance of the spoken output. The FLLD group did not show sensitivity to the word length effect and showed no advantage in the picture pointing recall condition. In Experiment 3 children with FLLD were shown to be sensitive to phonological similarity but again they showed neither a word length effect nor a slower articulation speed. Furthermore, in all three experiments children with FLLD were shown to be less efficient in phonological sensitivity tasks and this deficit appeared to be independent of the phonological memory problem. All three experiments consistently showed that children with FLLD have an impairment in phonological memory and phonological processing, which appear to be independent from one other but both contribute to the children’s difficulty in learning a second language.

Basic Principles of Language Intervention for Children Who Use AAC

from Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication

No abstract available.

Chomsky’s Minimalist Program: A Brief Linguistic Primer

from Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Children around the world, no matter what their native language, follow a similar course in language acquisition from the emergence of first words to the mastery of syntax. The uniformity and rapidity of first language acquisition is possible because human infants are born with a biologically endowed innate language faculty within the brain that drives the course of language development. Although this premise was doubted 50 years ago, today biologists and linguists alike accept it. Our human language faculty orchestrates and shapes the acquisition of language. Neurotypically developing children need only the surrounding language input to acquire language. In contrast, children with receptive language delays, including many of those who are or will become augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) users, need more than exposure to language if they are to develop adult competence in their native language.

Grammatical Morpheme Intervention Issues for Students Who Use AAC

from Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Many children who use AAC experience difficulties with acquiring grammar. At the 9th Annual Conference of ASHA’s Special Interest Division 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Binger presented recent research results from an intervention program designed to facilitate the bound morpheme acquisition of three school-aged children who used augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Results indicated that the children quickly began to use the bound morphemes that were taught; however, the morphemes were not maintained until a contrastive approach to intervention was introduced. After the research results were presented, the conference participants discussed a wide variety of issues relating to grammar acquisition for children who use AAC. Some of the main topics of discussion included the following: provision of supports for grammar comprehension and expression, intervention techniques to support grammatical morpheme acquisition, and issues relating to AAC device use when teaching grammatical morpheme use.

Language Acquisition Theory and AAC

from Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication

This article presents a reflection on the relationship between language acquisition theories and augmentative and alternative (AAC) intervention, particularly related to grammar. Aspects of the language-learning situation for children needing AAC and of production of language using an AAC system that may pose challenges for acquisition of grammar are discussed. The implications for AAC intervention that can be drawn from several language acquisition theories are explored. It is suggested that establishing clearer or more overt links between theories and intervention is important in order to make underlying assumptions more explicit and to be aware of the theoretical underpinnings of AAC intervention.

Setting the Stage: AAC and Linguistic Competence

from Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication

No abstract available.

Thoughts on Grammar Intervention in AAC

from Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication

In this article, I propose that, for several reasons, grammar should be an early focus of communication interventions for young children using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. The basic goals for such programs should be to facilitate the child’s comprehension of the language of the community, or the target language, thus leading the way to literacy, and to foster the child’s use of symbol combinations that mirror the grammatical patterns of speaking children acquiring the target language, even if they cannot be fully grammatically complete. I introduce five principles that underlie most successful approaches to grammar interventions with children with specific language impairment. My initial attempts to apply these principles to interventions with children with complex communication needs indicate that they may be of considerable value to clinicians planning intervention programs. On the other hand, the challenges posed by the intellectual and physical limitations of many AAC users and their communication systems make it necessary to modify at least Principle 5 if the basic goals of intervention are to be met.

Tips for Developing Literacy for Users of AAC

from Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication

No abstract available.

Developmental Links of Very Early Phonological and Language Skills to Second Grade Reading Outcomes

from the Journal of Learning Disabilities

The authors examined second grade reading accuracy and fluency and their associations via letter knowledge to phonological and language predictors assessed at 3.5, 4.5, and 5.5 years in children in the Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Dyslexia. Structural equation modeling showed that a developmentally highly stable factor (early phonological and language processing [EPLP]) behind key dyslexia predictors (i.e., phonological awareness, short-term memory, rapid naming, vocabulary, and pseudoword repetition) could already be identified at 3.5 years. EPLP was significantly associated with reading and spelling accuracy and by age with letter knowledge. However, EPLP had only a minor link with reading fluency, which was additionally explained by early letter knowledge. The results show that reading accuracy is well predicted by early phonological and language skills. Variation in fluent reading skills is not well explained by early skills, suggesting factors other than phonological core skills. Future research is suggested to explore the factors behind the development of fast and accurate decoding skills.

Selectivity of lexical-semantic disorders in Polish-speaking patients with aphasia: Evidence from single-word comprehension

from the Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology

Several neuropsychological studies have shown that patients with brain damage may demonstrate selective category-specific deficits of auditory comprehension. The present paper reports on an investigation of aphasic patients’ preserved ability to perform a semantic task on spoken words despite severe impairment in auditory comprehension, as shown by failure in matching spoken words to pictured objects. Twenty-six aphasic patients (11 women and 15 men) with impaired speech comprehension due to a left-hemisphere ischaemic stroke were examined; all were right-handed and native speakers of Polish. Six narrowly defined semantic categories for which dissociations have been reported are colors, body parts, animals, food, objects (mostly tools), and means of transportation. An analysis using one-way ANOVA with repeated measures in conjunction with the Lambda-Wilks Test revealed significant discrepancies among these categories in aphasic patients, who had much more difficulty comprehending names of colors than they did comprehending names of other objects (F(5,21) = 13.15; p < .001). Animals were most often the easiest category to understand. The possibility of a simple explanation in terms of word frequency and/or visual complexity was ruled out. Evidence from the present study support the position that so called “global” aphasia is an imprecise term and should be redefined. These results are discussed within the connectionist and modular perspectives on category-specific deficits in aphasia.

Selectivity of lexical-semantic disorders in Polish-speaking patients with aphasia: Evidence from single-word comprehension

from the Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology

Several neuropsychological studies have shown that patients with brain damage may demonstrate selective category-specific deficits of auditory comprehension. The present paper reports on an investigation of aphasic patients’ preserved ability to perform a semantic task on spoken words despite severe impairment in auditory comprehension, as shown by failure in matching spoken words to pictured objects. Twenty-six aphasic patients (11 women and 15 men) with impaired speech comprehension due to a left-hemisphere ischaemic stroke were examined; all were right-handed and native speakers of Polish. Six narrowly defined semantic categories for which dissociations have been reported are colors, body parts, animals, food, objects (mostly tools), and means of transportation. An analysis using one-way ANOVA with repeated measures in conjunction with the Lambda-Wilks Test revealed significant discrepancies among these categories in aphasic patients, who had much more difficulty comprehending names of colors than they did comprehending names of other objects (F(5,21) = 13.15; p < .001). Animals were most often the easiest category to understand. The possibility of a simple explanation in terms of word frequency and/or visual complexity was ruled out. Evidence from the present study support the position that so called “global” aphasia is an imprecise term and should be redefined. These results are discussed within the connectionist and modular perspectives on category-specific deficits in aphasia.

Object file continuity and the auditory attentional blink

from Perception and Psychophysics

Three experiments were designed to investigate the causes of the auditory attentional blink (AB). Experiments 1A and 1B revealed that there was a larger auditory AB when the target and the distractors were different in two attributes than when they were different in only one attribute. Experiments 2A and 2B showed that for pure-tone distractor sequences, there were small auditory AB deficits when both the target and the probe were different from the distractors in two attributes or in one attribute; however, for pulse distractor sequences, there was a large auditory AB when both the target and the probe were different from the distractors in one attribute, but not when they were different in two attributes. Experiments 3A and 3B revealed that regardless of the relationship of the target to the subsequent distractors, a large AB was generated if it was the first sound in a sequence. Moreover, only a very small AB was apparent when the distractors following the probe were replaced by silence. These results indicated that the auditory AB is affected by both the requirement of creating and consolidating a new object file for the target and the overwriting of the probe by the distractors following it.

Change in hearing during ‘wait and scan’ management of patients with vestibular schwannoma

from the Journal of Laryngology and Otology

Aim: To evaluate hearing changes during ‘wait and scan’ management of patients with vestibular schwannoma.

Subjects: Over a 10-year period, 636 patients have prospectively been allocated to ‘wait and scan’ management, with annual magnetic resonance scanning and audiological examination.

Results: At the time of diagnosis, 334 patients (53 per cent) had good hearing and speech discrimination of better than 70 per cent; at the end of the 10-year observation period, this latter percentage was 31 per cent. In 17 per cent of the patients, speech discrimination at diagnosis was 100 per cent; of these, 88 per cent still had good hearing at the end of the observation period. However, in patients with even a small initial speech discrimination loss, only 55 per cent maintained good hearing at the end of the observation period.

Conclusion: After comparing the hearing results of hearing preservation surgery and of radiation therapy with those of ‘wait and scan’ management, it appears that, in vestibular schwannoma patients with a small tumour and normal speech discrimination, the main indication for active treatment should be established tumour growth.