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Neural correlates of phonological processing in speech sound disorder: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study

Speech sound disorders (SSD) are the largest group of communication disorders observed in children. One explanation for these disorders is that children with SSD fail to form stable phonological representations when acquiring the speech sound system of their language due to poor phonological memory (PM). The goal of this study was to examine PM in individuals with histories of SSD employing functional MR imaging (fMRI). Participants were six right-handed adolescents with a history of early childhood SSD and seven right-handed matched controls with no history of speech and language disorders. We performed an fMRI study using an overt non-word repetition (NWR). Right lateralized hypoactivation in the inferior frontal gyrus and middle temporal gyrus was observed. The former suggests a deficit in the phonological processing loop supporting PM, while the later may indicate a deficit in speech perception. Both are cognitive processes involved in speech production. Bilateral hyperactivation observed in the pre and supplementary motor cortex, inferior parietal, supramarginal gyrus and cerebellum raised the possibility of compensatory increases in cognitive effort or reliance on the other components of the articulatory rehearsal network and phonologic store. These findings may be interpreted to support the hypothesis that individuals with SSD may have a deficit in PM and to suggest the involvement of compensatory mechanisms to counteract dysfunction of the normal network.

from Brain and Language

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Assessment and Treatment of Working Memory Deficits in School-Age Children: The Role of the Speech-Language Pathologist

Conclusion: Research to date has documented that children with language impairments frequently have poor WM skills. SLPs can support poor WM skills by considering both modifications to the environment and child-enacted knowledge and skills, which may serve to reduce the impact of poor WM skills on learning and academic success.

from Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools

Does phonological short-term memory causally determine vocabulary learning? Toward a computational resolution of the debate

The relationship between nonword repetition ability and vocabulary size and vocabulary learning has been a topic of intense research interest and investigation over the last two decades, following the demonstration that nonword repetition accuracy is predictive of vocabulary size (Gathercole & Baddeley, 1989). However, the nature of this relationship is not well understood. One prominent account posits that phonological short-term memory (PSTM) is a causal determinant both of nonword repetition ability and of phonological vocabulary learning, with the observed correlation between the two reflecting the effect of this underlying third variable (e.g., Baddeley, Gathercole, & Papagno, 1998). An alternative account proposes the opposite causality: that it is phonological vocabulary size that causally determines nonword repetition ability (e.g., Snowling, Chiat, & Hulme, 1991). We present a theory of phonological vocabulary learning, instantiated as a computational model. The model offers a precise account of the construct of PSTM, of performance in the nonword repetition task, of novel word form learning, and of the relationship between all of these. We show through simulation not only that PSTM causally affects both nonword repetition accuracy and phonological vocabulary size, but also that phonological vocabulary size causally affects nonword repetition ability. The plausibility of the model is supported by the fact that its nonword repetition accuracy displays effects of phonotactic probability and of nonword length, which have been taken as evidence for causal effects on nonword repetition accuracy of phonological vocabulary knowledge and PSTM, respectively. Thus the model makes explicit how the causal links posited by the two theoretical perspectives are both valid, in the process reconciling the two perspectives, and indicating that an opposition between them is unnecessary.

from the Journal of Memory and Language