The role of phonological working memory and environmental factors in lexical development in italian-speaking late talkers: A one-year follow-up study

Andrea Marini, Milena Ruffino, Maria Enrica Sali, Massimo Molteni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This follow-up study assessed (a) the influence of phonological working memory (pWM), home literacy environment, and a family history of linguistic impairments in late talkers (LTs); (b) the diagnostic accuracy of a task of nonword repetition (NWR) in identifying LTs; and (c) the persistence of lexical weaknesses after 10 months. Method: Two hundred ninety-three children were assessed at approximately 32 (t1) and 41 (t2) months. At t1, they were administered the Italian adaptation of the Language Development Survey, an NWR task (used to assess pWM), and questionnaires assessing home literacy environment and family history of language impairments. Thirty-three LTs were identified. The linguistic skills of the participants were evaluated at t2 by administering tasks assessing Articulation, Naming, Semantic Fluency, and Lexical Comprehension. Results: At t2, LTs performed more poorly as compared with age-matched typically developing peers in articulatory and naming skills, had reduced lexical comprehension abilities, and had limited lexical knowledge. Their performance on the NWR task at t1 correlated with the extension of their vocabularies at t2 (as estimated with a Semantic Fluency task). Conclusions: The Language Development Survey recently adapted to Italian is sensitive to LTs. Former LTs still have a mild lexical delay at approximately 40 months. As an indirect measure of pWM, the task of NWR is an early indicator of future lexical deficits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3462-3473
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume60
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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