[PS-3.1] Are procedural and declarative learning differentially related to children's language skills?

Gooch, D. . 1 , Henderson, L. 2 , West, G. . 1 & Norbury, C. 1

1 University College London
2 University of York

Deficits in procedural learning are suggested to underpin deficits in grammar characteristic of children with Language Disorder (LD). In support of this, several studies show that children with LD perform more poorly than typically developing children on non-linguistic procedural learning tasks such as the Serial Reaction Time (SRT) task. The current study aimed to assess the relationship between children?s language skills and their procedural learning skills, as measured by a SRT task, in a population cohort of children from the Surrey Communication and Language in Education Study (N=499; sampling weights are employed so that when weighted, the estimates obtained from the sample are estimates for the whole population). Specifically, we used structural equation modelling to assess whether children?s performance on a SRT task related more strongly to their grammatical and phonological skills rather than their vocabulary skills, which in turn would be more strongly related to a measure of declarative memory (paired associate learning). In addition, we asked whether procedural learning deficits in LD could be explained by co-occurring attention weaknesses, given both the comorbidity between LD and ADHD and that SRT tasks are long and attentionally demanding. Findings are discussed in relation to causal theories of LD.