Nonword Repetition and Vocabulary Use in Toddlers

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Purpose:There is general consensus that the ability to repeat nonsense words is related to vocabulary size in young children, but there is considerable debate about the nature of the relationship and the mechanisms that underlie it. Research with adults has proposed a shared neural substrate for nonword repetition (NWR) and language production, but this has been little explored in children.Methods:This research explored the hypothesis that NWR and rapid word retrieval (the number of different words during conversation within 100 tokens, NDW100) are strongly related skills in young children who are described as late talkers (LTs).Results:In a sample of 92 typically developing 2-year-old children, a multiple regression to predict NWR from age, receptive vocabulary, expressive vocabulary, and NDW100, the predictors together accounted for 29.6% of the variance in NWR, F(4,87) = 9.12, p < .001, with receptive and expressive vocabulary being the significant predictors, t = 2.47, p = .02; t = 2.99, p = .004, respectively. However, in 21 LTs, only NDW100 was a significant predictor (t = 2.66, p = .02) of NWR, accounting for 52.9% of the variance in NWR, F(1,19) = 21.30, p < .001.Discussion:The results are interpreted as providing evidence for differences in the recruitment of the dorsal and ventral routes during psycholinguistic processing, between these 2 groups of children. Implications for therapy are discussed.

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