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Dev Psychobiol. 2002 Apr;40(3):278-92.

The importance of rapid auditory processing abilities to early language development: evidence from converging methodologies.

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Center for Molecular & Behavioral, Neuroscience, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ 07102, USA.


The ability to process two or more rapidly presented, successive, auditory stimuli is believed to underlie successful language acquisition. Likewise, deficits in rapid auditory processing of both verbal and nonverbal stimuli are characteristic of individuals with developmental language disorders such as Specific Language Impairment. Auditory processing abilities are well developed in infancy, and thus such deficits should be detectable in infants. In the studies presented here, converging methodologies are used to examine such abilities in infants with and without a family history of language disorder. Behavioral measures, including assessments of infant information processing, and an EEG/event-related potential (ERP) paradigm are used concurrently. Results suggest that rapid auditory processing skills differ as a function of family history and are predictive of later language outcome. Further, these paradigms may prove to be sensitive tools for identifying children with poor processing skills in infancy and thus at a higher risk for developing a language disorder.

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