Blog Archives

Language Abilities of Children Who Stutter: A Meta-Analytical Review

Conclusions: Present findings were taken to suggest that children’s language abilities are potentially influential variables associated with childhood stuttering.

from American Journal of Speech Language Pathology

Comparison Of Pausing Behavior In Children Who Stutter And Children Who Have Asperger Syndrome

: Both groups presented grammatical and non-grammatical pauses and the former predominated. The children with Asperger Syndrome produced a greater number of pauses than the stutterers.

from Journal of Fluency Disorders

The effect of language cues on infants’ representational flexibility in a deferred imitation task

Twelve- and 15-month-old infants who received simple verbal cues at encoding and retrieval exhibited superior representational flexibility on an imitation task compared to infants who did not receive those cues. Verbal cues can help early-verbal infants overcome perceptual dissimilarity and express knowledge in novel situations.

from Infant Behavior and Development

Communicating without a functioning language system: Implications for the role of language in mentalizing

A debated issue in the relationship between language and thought is how our linguistic abilities are involved in understanding the intentions of others (’mentalizing’). The results of both theoretical and empirical work have been used to argue that linguistic, and more specifically, grammatical, abilities are crucial in representing the mental states of others. Here we contribute to this debate by investigating how damage to the language system influences the generation and understanding of intentional communicative behaviors. Four patients with pervasive language difficulties (severe global or agrammatic aphasia) engaged in an experimentally controlled non-verbal communication paradigm, which required signaling and understanding a communicative message. Despite their profound language problems they were able to engage in recipient design as well as intention recognition, showing similar indicators of mentalizing as have been observed in the neurologically healthy population. Our results show that aspects of the ability to communicate remain present even when core capacities of the language system are dysfunctional.

from Neuropsychologia

Volumes of Lateral Temporal and Parietal Structures Distinguish Between Healthy Aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Alzheimer’s Disease

Distinguishing amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and healthy aging depends mainly on clinical evaluation, and, ultimately, on investigator’s judgment. Clinical evaluation in vivo is based primarily on cognitive assessments. The present study explores the potential of volumetric magnetic resonance imaging of parietal and lateral temporal brain structures to support the diagnosis of AD and to distinguish AD patients from patients with MCI and healthy control subjects (HCS). 52 age-matched HCS, 18 patients with MCI, and 59 patients with probable late onset AD were investigated. Using computational, neuromorphometric procedures gray matter (GM) was automatically parcellated into 28 local regions of interest, the volumes of which were computed. The left hippocampus (sensitivity/specificity: 80.8–90.4%/55.6–86.4%) and the right hippocampus (73.1–90.4%/66.7–84.7%) provided highest diagnostic accuracy in separating all three diagnostic groups. Promising diagnostic values for distinguishing MCI from HCS were found for the left superior parietal gyrus (61.5%/55.6%) and left supramarginal gyrus (65.4%/66.7%), and for distinguishing subjects with MCI from AD patients for the right middle temporal gyrus (77.8%/79.7%), left inferior temporal gyrus (83.3%/72.9%), and right superior temporal gyrus (77.8%/71.2%). The left superior temporal pole (92.3%/84.7%), left parahippocampal gyrus (86.5%/81.4%), left Heschl’s gyrus (86.5%/79.7%), and the right superior temporal pole (82.7%/78.0%) revealed most promising diagnostic values for distinguishing AD patients from HCS. Data revealed that lateral temporal and parietal GM volumes distinguish between HCS, MCI, and AD as accurate as hippocampal volumes do; hence, these volumes can be used in the diagnostic procedure. Results also suggest that cognitive functions associated with these brain regions, e.g., language and visuospatial abilities, may be tested more extensively to obtain additional information that might enhance the diagnostic accuracy further.

from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Children’s language and behavioural, social and emotional difficulties and prosocial behaviour during the toddler years and at school entry

The ability of young children to manage their emotions and behaviours is an important prerequisite for social adjustment and school readiness. With an increase in early-onset behavioural difficulties in children, understanding changes in child behaviour during the preschool years and the factors that influence it is a priority for policy and practice. Despite much evidence on the association between language and behavioural difficulties in children, few studies have examined longitudinally language and problem/prosocial behaviour in early years. Using a UK community-based sample, Dimitra Hartas, from the University of Warwick, examines the association between language, gender and behavioural, social and emotional difficulties and prosocial behaviour during the toddler years and at school entry. The findings showed a moderate decline in behavioural and social difficulties during preschool, and stability in emotional difficulties. Moderate associations were found between vocabulary and problem behaviour but not prosocial behaviour, with literacy-based language emerging as a substantive predictor of teacher-rated behaviour. These findings have important implications for early years provision.

from the British Journal of Special Education

Foreign body aspiration and language spoken at home: 10-year review

Conclusion: Patients from non-English speaking backgrounds had a significantly higher incidence of food (particularly nut) aspiration. Awareness-raising and public education is needed in relevant communities to prevent certain foods, particularly nuts, being given to children too young to chew and swallow them adequately.

from the Journal of Laryngology and Otology

The organization of narrative discourse in Lewy body spectrum disorder

Narrative discourse is an essential component of day-to-day communication, but little is known about narrative in Lewy body spectrum disorder (LBSD), including Parkinson’s disease (PD), Parkinson’s disease with dementia (PDD), and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). We performed a detailed analysis of a semi-structured speech sample in 32 non-aphasic patients with LBSD, and we related their narrative impairments to gray matter (GM) atrophy using voxel-based morphometry. We found that patients with PDD and DLB have significant difficulty organizing their narrative speech. This was correlated with deficits on measures of executive functioning and speech fluency. Regression analyses associated this deficit with reduced cortical volume in inferior frontal and anterior cingulate regions. These findings are consistent with a model of narrative discourse that includes executive as well as language components and with an impairment of the organizational component of narrative discourse in patients with PDD and DLB.

from Brain and Language

Further fMRI validation of the visual half field technique as an indicator of language laterality: A large-group analysis

The best established lateralized cerebral function is speech production, with the majority of the population having left hemisphere dominance. An important question is how to best assess the laterality of this function. Neuroimaging techniques such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) are increasingly used in clinical settings to replace the invasive Wada-test. We evaluated the usefulness of behavioral visual half field (VHF) tasks for screening a large sample of healthy left-handers. Laterality Indices (LIs) calculated on the basis of the latencies in a word and picture naming VHF task were compared to the brain activity measured in a silent word generation task in fMRI (pars opercularis/BA44 and pars triangularis/BA45). Results confirmed the usefulness of the VHF-tasks as a screening device. None of the left-handed participants with clear right visual field (RVF) advantages in the picture and word naming task showed right hemisphere dominance in the scanner. In contrast, 16/20 participants with a left visual field (LVF) advantage in both word and picture naming turned out to have atypical right brain dominance. Results were less clear for participants who failed to show clear VHF asymmetries (below 20 ms RVF advantage and below 60 ms LVF advantage) or who had inconsistent asymmetries in picture and word naming. These results indicate that the behavioral tasks can mainly provide useful information about the direction of speech dominance when both VHF differences clearly point in the same direction.

from Neuropsychologia

Language therapy and autism spectrum: the therapeutic environment interference

CONCLUSION: The physical environment studied did not significantly influence the functional communication profile of the autistic subjects, even though there were individual tendencies to present better performance in one room or another.

from Revista de Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

Longitudinal pragmatic profile of a child with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder

Human communication depends mostly on the conversion of ideas into language, involving the interaction among all its components – phonological, semantic, syntactic and pragmatic. Pragmatics studies the relationship between the social meaning of language and its semantic content, expressed by the communicative act itself. Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder generates a dyssynchrony in nerve conduction, contributing to an impairment in speech perception. In hearing impaired children the language acquisition and development process can be stimulated with intervention. The aim of this study was to present a longitudinal follow-up of the use of pragmatic communication abilities by a child with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder. The child received speech-language pathology therapy during three years in the Educational Audiology area. Video recordings of spontaneous conversation were made in the beginning of each year. These recordings were transcribed and analyzed according to the verbal communicative abilities protocol. In the initial recording, the most frequent ability presented by the child was the direct response; however these were extended to more complex responses during the intervention. In the last recording the child proposes new topics of discourse, produce narratives and arguments. The emergence of more sophisticated communication skills is justified by the language development, which benefits from language therapy with hearing impaired children. This suggests that, for the case study described, speech-language pathology therapy contributed to the improvement of pragmatic communication abilities.

from Revista de Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

Shadows of music–language interaction on low frequency brain oscillatory patterns

Electrophysiological studies investigating similarities between music and language perception have relied exclusively on the signal averaging technique, which does not adequately represent oscillatory aspects of electrical brain activity that are relevant for higher cognition. The current study investigated the patterns of brain oscillations during simultaneous processing of music and language using visually presented sentences and auditorily presented chord sequences. Music-syntactically regular or irregular chord functions were presented in sync with syntactically or semantically correct or incorrect words. Irregular chord functions (presented simultaneously with a syntactically correct word) produced an early (150–250 ms) spectral power decrease over anterior frontal regions in the theta band (5–7 Hz) and a late (350–700 ms) power increase in both the delta and the theta band (2–7 Hz) over parietal regions. Syntactically incorrect words (presented simultaneously with a regular chord) elicited a similar late power increase in delta–theta band over parietal sites, but no early effect. Interestingly, the late effect was significantly diminished when the language-syntactic and music-syntactic irregularities occurred at the same time. Further, the presence of a semantic violation occurring simultaneously with regular chords produced a significant increase in later delta–theta power at posterior regions; this effect was marginally decreased when the identical semantic violation occurred simultaneously with a music syntactical violation. Altogether, these results show that low frequency oscillatory networks get activated during the syntactic processing of both music and language, and further, these networks may possibly be shared.

from Brain and Language

Cognitive effects of language on human navigation

Language has been linked to spatial representation and behavior in humans, but the nature of this effect is debated. Here, we test whether simple verbal expressions improve 4-year-old children’s performance in a disoriented search task in a small rectangular room with a single red landmark wall. Disoriented children’s landmark-guided search for a hidden object was dramatically enhanced when the experimenter used certain verbal expressions to designate the landmark during the hiding event. Both a spatial expression (“I’m hiding the sticker at the red/white wall”) and a non-spatial but task-relevant expression (“The red/white wall can help you get the sticker”) enhanced children’s search, relative to uncued controls. By contrast, a verbal expression that drew attention to the landmark in a task-irrelevant manner (“Look at this pretty red/white wall”) produced no such enhancement. These findings provide further evidence that language changes spatial behavior in children and illuminate one mechanism through which language exerts its effect: by helping children understand the relevance of landmarks for encoding locations.

from Cognition

The effects of subjectively significant stimuli on subsequent cognitive brain activity

The results indicate an effect of subjectively significant distracters on subsequent brain activity with an interaction between cognitive and emotional processes.

from Physiology and Behavior

Functional ear (a)symmetry in brainstem neural activity relevant to encoding of voice pitch: A precursor for hemispheric specialization?

Pitch processing is lateralized to the right hemisphere; linguistic pitch is further mediated by left cortical areas. This experiment investigates whether ear asymmetries vary in brainstem representation of pitch depending on linguistic status. Brainstem frequency-following responses (FFRs) were elicited by monaural stimulation of the left and right ear of 15 native speakers of Mandarin Chinese using two synthetic speech stimuli that differ in linguistic status of tone. One represented a native lexical tone (Tone 2: T2); the other, T2′, a nonnative variant in which the pitch contour was a mirror image of T2 with the same starting and ending frequencies. Two 40-ms portions of f0 contours were selected in order to compare two regions (R1, early; R2 late) differing in pitch acceleration rate and perceptual saliency. In R2, linguistic status effects revealed that T2 exhibited a larger degree of FFR rightward ear asymmetry as reflected in f0 amplitude relative to T2′. Relative to midline (ear asymmetry = 0), the only ear asymmetry reaching significance was that favoring left ear stimulation elicited by T2′. By left- and right-ear stimulation separately, FFRs elicited by T2 were larger than T2′ in the right ear only. Within T2′, FFRs elicited by the earlier region were larger than the later in both ears. Within T2, no significant differences in FFRS were observed between regions in either ear. Collectively, these findings support the idea that origins of cortical processing preferences for perceptually-salient portions of pitch are rooted in early, preattentive stages of processing in the brainstem.

from Brain and Language