Electrophysiology of perception and processing of phonological information as indices of toddlers’ language performance

Vanessa Harwood, Jonathan Preston, Bernard Grela, Dooti Roy, Olivia Harold, Jacqueline Turcios, Kiyomi Andrada, Nicole Landi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: The toddler years are a critical period for language development and growth. We investigated how event-related potentials (ERPs) to repeated and novel nonwords are associated with clinical assessments of language in young children. In addition, nonword repetition (NWR) was used to measure phonological working memory to determine the unique and collective contribution of ERP measures of phonemic discrimination and NWR as predictors of language ability. Method: Forty children between the ages of 24–48 months participated in an ERP experiment to determine phonemic discrimination to repeated and novel nonwords in an old/ new design. Participants also completed a NWR task to explore the contribution of phonological working memory in predicting language. Results: ERP analyses revealed that faster responses to novel stimuli correlated with higher language performance on clinical assessments of language. Regression analyses revealed that an earlier component was associated with lower level phonemic sensitivity, and a later component was indexing phonological working memory skills similar to NWR. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that passive ERP responses indexing phonological discrimination and phonological working memory are strongly related to behavioral measures of language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1011
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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