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Predictive processing and developmental language disorder

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>14/01/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
Number of pages5
Pages (from-to)181-185
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date29/12/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Purpose: Research in the cognitive and neural sciences has situated predictive processing – the anticipation of upcoming percepts – as a dominant function of the brain. The purpose of this article is to argue that prediction should feature more prominently in explanatory accounts of sentence processing and comprehension deficits in developmental language disorder (DLD).

Method: We evaluate behavioural and neurophysiological data relevant to the theme of prediction in early typical and atypical language acquisition and processing.

Results: Poor syntactic awareness – attributable in part to an underlying statistical learning deficit – is likely to impede syntax-based predictive processing in children with DLD, conferring deficits in spoken sentence comprehension. Furthermore, there may be a feedback cycle in which poor syntactic awareness impedes children’s ability to anticipate upcoming percepts, and this in turn makes children unable to improve their syntactic awareness on the basis of prediction error signals.

Conclusion: This article offers a re-focusing of theory on sentence processing and comprehension deficits in DLD, from a difficulty in processing and integrating perceived syntactic features, to a difficulty in anticipating what is coming next.