[PS-1.5] Do children with specific language impairment have a deficit in nonverbal sequence learning?

Torkildsen, J. v. K. 1 , Arciuli, J. 2 & Wie, O. B. 1, 3

1 University of Oslo
2 University of Sydney
3 Oslo University Hospital

Specific language impairment (SLI) is a common developmental disorder, affecting approximately 7% of children. It has been suggested that the language learning difficulties of children with SLI are due to a domain-general impairment in procedural learning (Ullman and Pierpont, 2004). A number of studies have confirmed that children with SLI have a deficit in nonverbal sequence learning when measured in serial reaction time tasks, which focus on motor aspects of learning. However, due to possible comorbid motor learning impairments in children with SLI, it is critical to assess sequence learning in other nonverbal tasks. We examined sequence learning in children with SLI using the visual embedded triplet paradigm, a non-motor paradigm which has not previously been used with this population. Participants were 26 Norwegian-speaking children with SLI (ages 7-13) and 26 children with typical language who were pairwise matched with SLI children on age, gender and nonverbal IQ. Results showed that there was significant learning in the control group, but not in the SLI group. There was also a significant difference in the amount of learning between the SLI and the control groups. These results are consistent with theories of a domain-general deficit in sequential learning in children with SLI.