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Academic Paper


Title: Non-adjacent dependency learning in infants at familial risk of dyslexia
Author: Edith L. Bavin
Institution: La Trobe University
Author: Letitia R. Naigles
Institution: University of Connecticut
Author: Maartje de Klerk
Institution: Universiteit Utrecht
Author: Frank Wijnen
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Universiteit Utrecht
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: This study tests the hypothesis that developmental dyslexia is (partly) caused by a deficit in implicit sequential learning, by investigating whether infants at familial risk of dyslexia can track non-adjacent dependencies in an artificial language. An implicit learning deficit would hinder detection of such dependencies, which mark grammatical relations (e.g. between ‘is’ and ‘-ing’ in ‘she is happily singing’). In a head-turn experiment with infants aged 1;6, family risk and typically developing infants were exposed to one of two novel languages containing dependencies of the type a-X-c, b-X-d or a-X-d, b-X-c, with fixed first and third elements and twenty-four different X elements. During test, typically developing children listened longer to ungrammatical strings (i.e. that did not correspond to their training language). However, family-risk children did not discriminate between grammatical and ungrammatical strings, indicating deficient implicit learning. The implications of these findings in relation to dyslexia and other language-based disorders are discussed.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Journal of Child Language Vol. 40, Issue 1, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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