While language develops effortlessly in most children, some experience significant and persistent difficulties resulting in a diagnosis of specific language impairment (SLI). Our project, Neurobehavioral studies of language impairment, focuses on such children. Since there is no clear explanation for their language problems, these children present a challenge to researchers who wish to better understand the nature of the impairment and identify causal factors associated with this puzzling childhood disorder.
Previous work in SLI indicates that language may be differentially impaired and that these differences may have origins in more general information-processing deficits. Researchers have sought to determine if all aspects of language are equally affected, and if deficits are delayed or deviant compared to typically developing children. Growing evidence from our studies indicate that language and nonlinguistic deficits do co-occur. Our past findings have challenged the language specificity of SLI. Studies underway will extend our examination of the neural correlates of language impairment.