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LINGUIST List 19.2493

Wed Aug 13 2008

Diss: Lang Acq/Neuroling: Torkildsen: 'Lexical Processing in ...'

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        1.    Janne Torkildsen, Lexical Processing in Typically and Atypically Developing Toddlers: Insights from event-related brain potentials


Message 1: Lexical Processing in Typically and Atypically Developing Toddlers: Insights from event-related brain potentials
Date: 13-Aug-2008
From: Janne Torkildsen <janne.torkildsengmail.com>
Subject: Lexical Processing in Typically and Atypically Developing Toddlers: Insights from event-related brain potentials
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Institution: University of Oslo
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Janne von Koss Torkildsen

Dissertation Title: Lexical Processing in Typically and Atypically Developing Toddlers: Insights from event-related brain potentials

Dissertation URL: http://www.hf.uio.no/iln/om-instituttet/ansatte/vit/PhD_Torkildsen.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
                            Neurolinguistics

Dissertation Director:
Magnus Lindgren
Hanne Gram Simonsen

Dissertation Abstract:

Although some of the most dramatic linguistic advances take place during
the second year of life, knowledge of language function in this period is
still limited. Particularly with regard to receptive language processing,
it is difficult to obtain reliable behavioral data due to expressive and
motivational limitations in toddlers. Electrophysiological techniques,
which do not require overt behavioral responses from participants, offer
exciting possibilities for increasing our knowledge about early language
development. The present thesis used the event-related potential (ERP)
technique to investigate two aspects of lexical processing in 20- and
24-month-old children: semantic organization of basic-level words and the
dynamics of novel word learning. While the main focus of the thesis was on
typical development, it also aimed to determine whether young children at
familial risk for dyslexia have a deficit in lexical-semantic processing.

In productive language, children in their second and third years of life
are prone to overextend basic-level words (such as 'dog') to include other
members of the same superordinate category (such as horse). However,
results from the present thesis indicate that in comprehension children in
this age group are able to differentiate between words from the same
superordinate category as labels for referents. This finding is at odds
with the position that children's overextensions result from oversized
conceptual or semantic categories.

The thesis also revealed significant differences in receptive learning of
novel words between children who had reached a productive vocabulary spurt
and children who had not yet reached this developmental milestone. Group
differences were seen both in the dynamics of word form familiarization and
in the ability to form rapid associations between word forms and referents.
These findings are discussed with regard to theories which suggest that the
vocabulary spurt results from production specific advances such as improved
articulatory control or increased motivation to communicate.

Toddlers at familial risk for dyslexia displayed deviances in
lexical-semantic priming effects compared to typically developing children.
This suggests that early deficits in children at-risk for dyslexia are not
restricted to lower level auditory or phonological processing, but also
involve higher-order language skills such as word comprehension.



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