Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Research bytes 7-27-10: Working memory & language; naming deficits and reading fluency in dyslexia

Three very interesting research articles.  The first provides a nice overview of the research on working memory (and the various constructs involved), even if you are not interested specifically in specific language impairment issues.  Usual quid-pro-quo offer stands---I will supply a copy of the PDF file to anyone who wants to read one of the articles in exchange for a brief guest blog post (at which time I will then provide a link to the article for others)

Montgomery, J. W., Magimairaj, B. M., & Finney, M. C. (2010). Working Memory and Specific Language Impairment: An Update on the Relation and Perspectives on Assessment and Treatment. American Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 19(1), 78-94.

Children with specific language impairment(SLI) demonstrate significant language impairments despite normal-range hearing and nonverbal IQ. Many of these children also show marked deficits in working memory (WM) abilities. However, the theoretical and clinical characterization of the association between WM and language limitations in SLI is still sparse. Our understanding of this association would benefit greatly from an updated and thorough review of the literature. Method: We review the newest developments in these areas from both a theoretical and clinical perspective. Our intent is to provide researchers and practicing clinicians (a) a conceptual framework within which the association between WM and language limitations of children with SLI can be understood and (b) potentially helpful suggestions for assessing and treating the memory-language difficulties of children with SLI.  Conclusions: In the past 10 years, important new theoretical insights into the range and nature of WM deficits and relation between these limitations and the language difficulties in SLI have occurred. New, robust diagnostic assessment tools and computerized treatment methods designed to enhance children’s WM functioning have also been developed. The assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of the language difficulties in SLI should consider the potential influence of WM.

Meisinger, E. B., Bloom, J. S., & Hynd, G. W. (2010). Reading fluency: implications for the assessment of children with reading disabilities. Annals of Dyslexia, 60(1), 1-17.
The current investigation explored the diagnostic utility of reading fluency measures in the identification of children with reading disabilities. Participants were 50 children referred to a university-based clinic because of suspected reading problems and/or a prior diagnosis of dyslexia, where children completed a battery of standardized intellectual, reading achievement, and processing measures. Within this clinical sample, a group of children were identified that exhibited specific deficits in their reading fluency skills with concurrent deficits in rapid naming speed and reading comprehension. This group of children would not have been identified as having a reading disability according to assessment of single word reading skills alone, suggesting that it is essential to assess reading fluency in addition to word reading because failure to do so may result in the under-identification of children with reading disabilities.

Jones, M. W., Branigan, H. P., Hatzidaki, A., & Obregon, M. (2010). Is the 'naming' deficit in dyslexia a misnomer? Cognition, 116(1), 56-70.

We report a study that investigated the widely held belief that naming-speed deficits in developmental dyslexia reflect impaired access to lexical-phonological codes. To investigate this issue, we compared adult dyslexic and adult non-dyslexic readers’ performance when naming and semantically categorizing arrays of objects. Dyslexic readers yielded slower response latencies than non-dyslexic readers when naming objects, but a subsequent comparison of object-naming and object-categorization tasks showed that the apparent ‘naming’ deficit could be attributed to a more general difficulty in retrieving information – either phonological or semantic – from the visual stimulus. Our findings suggest that although visual–phonological connections may be crucial in explaining naming-speed performance they do not fully characterise dyslexic readers’ naming-speed impairments.

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