Syntactic Versus Memory Accounts of the Sentence Comprehension Deficits of Specific Language Impairment: Looking Back, Looking Ahead.

Research paper by James W JW Montgomery, Ronald B RB Gillam, Julia L JL Evans

Indexed on: 16 Dec '16Published on: 16 Dec '16Published in: Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR


Compared with same-age typically developing peers, school-age children with specific language impairment (SLI) exhibit significant deficits in spoken sentence comprehension. They also demonstrate a range of memory limitations. Whether these 2 deficit areas are related is unclear. The present review article aims to (a) review 2 main theoretical accounts of SLI sentence comprehension and various studies supporting each and (b) offer a new, broader, more integrated memory-based framework to guide future SLI research, as we believe the available evidence favors a memory-based perspective of SLI comprehension limitations.We reviewed the literature on the sentence comprehension abilities of English-speaking children with SLI from 2 theoretical perspectives.The sentence comprehension limitations of children with SLI appear to be more fully captured by a memory-based perspective than by a syntax-specific deficit perspective.Although a memory-based view appears to be the better account of SLI sentence comprehension deficits, this view requires refinement and expansion. Current memory-based perspectives of adult sentence comprehension, with proper modification, offer SLI investigators new, more integrated memory frameworks within which to study and better understand the sentence comprehension abilities of children with SLI.