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Brain Res. 2008 Apr 18;1205:55-69. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2007.10.108. Epub 2008 Feb 19.

Neural mechanisms of selective auditory attention are enhanced by computerized training: electrophysiological evidence from language-impaired and typically developing children.

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  • 1University of Oregon, USA. courtney@uoregon.edu


Recent proposals suggest that some interventions designed to improve language skills might also target or train selective attention. The present study examined whether six weeks of high-intensity (100 min/day) training with a computerized intervention program designed to improve language skills would also influence neural mechanisms of selective auditory attention previously shown to be deficient in children with specific language impairment (SLI). Twenty children received computerized training, including 8 children diagnosed with SLI and 12 children with typically developing language. An additional 13 children with typically developing language received no specialized training (NoTx control group) but were tested and retested after a comparable time period to control for maturational and test-retest effects. Before and after training (or a comparable delay period for the NoTx control group), children completed standardized language assessments and an event-related brain potential (ERP) measure of selective auditory attention. Relative to the NoTx control group, children receiving training showed increases in standardized measures of receptive language. In addition, children receiving training showed larger increases in the effects of attention on neural processing following training relative to the NoTx control group. The enhanced effect of attention on neural processing represented a large effect size (Cohen's d=0.8), and was specific to changes in signal enhancement of attended stimuli. These findings indicate that the neural mechanisms of selective auditory attention, previously shown to be deficient in children with SLI, can be remediated through training and can accompany improvements on standardized measures of language.

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