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J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2005 Apr;48(2):278-94.

Lexical priming in picture naming of young children who do and do not stutter.

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Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.


The purpose of this investigation was to assess the influence of lexical/semantic priming on the speech reaction time of young children who do and do not stutter during a picture-naming task. Participants were 23 children who stutter, age-matched (+/-4 months) to 23 children who do not stutter, ranging in age from 3;0 (years;months) to 5;11. Procedures involved a computer-assisted picture-naming task, during which each participant was presented with the same set of 28 pictures in each of 3 different conditions: (a) no-prime condition, in which no auditory stimulus was presented before picture display; (b) related-prime condition, in which a word, semantically related to the target picture, was presented auditorily 700 ms before picture display; and (c) unrelated-prime condition, in which a semantically unrelated word was presented auditorily 700 ms before picture display. Results indicated that when compared with a no-prime condition, presentation of semantically related words before the picture-naming response led to shorter or faster speech reaction times for children who do not stutter, but for children who stutter, it led to longer or slower speech reaction times. Moreover, children who do not stutter and who had higher receptive vocabulary scores exhibited faster speech reaction times and a greater semantic priming effect, whereas no such relationships were found for children who stutter. Findings were taken to suggest that children who stutter may exhibit subtle difficulties with lexical encoding and that this difficulty with speech-language planning may be one variable that contributes to childhood stuttering.

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