Factors That Influence Word Learning

Project: Research project

Grant Details


DESCRIPTION: This study will measure the influence of working memory on how children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and typically developing children learn words. Working memory can be thought of as what happens in between when a person hears a new word, and when that word is stored as part of a long term memory. Although several models of working memory exist, Baddeley's (2003) working memory model is most often invoked to explain word learning deficits. Two components of this model (the phonological loop and the visuo-spatial sketchpad) have the potential to be sources of word learning problems for children with SLI. Verification of the source of word learning problems would lead to significantly different therapy plans. The results from this study will be a step toward developing fine-tuned intervention and educational plans for children who are at risk for academic failure. The specific aims of this proposal are: 1: To determine how manipulations of the phonological loop affect word learning (phonetic word form) in children with Specific Language Impairment. 2: To determine how manipulations of the visuo-spatial sketchpad affect word learning (semantic representation) in children with Specific Language Impairment. This research will enroll children with SLI and children with normal language skills. A computer game format will be used to test the children's skills on different word learning tasks. Measurements will be taken of both expressive and receptive, and lexical and semantic measures. Specific components of Baddeley's (2003) working memory model will be manipulated to see where problems lie for children with SLI. The main effects and proposed interactions will be tested via ANOVA. Results will be analyzed in light of this theoretical model. The long-term aim of this research is to gain a better understanding of how children, particularly those with SLI, learn words. This proposal seeks to identify specific problems related to word learning in order to eventually create focused, effective interventions for impaired children.
Effective start/end date7/1/076/30/11


  • National Institutes of Health: $75,500.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $75,500.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $75,500.00


  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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