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  Toward an individualized neural assessment of receptive language in children

Petit, S., Badcock, N. A., Grootswagers, T., Rich, A. N., Brock, J., Nickels, L., et al. (2020). Toward an individualized neural assessment of receptive language in children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(7), 2361-2385. doi:10.1044/2020_JSLHR-19-00313.

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Petit, Selene1, 2, Author
Badcock, Nicholas A.1, 2, 3, Author
Grootswagers, Tijl1, 2, 4, Author
Rich, Anina N.1, 2, Author
Brock, Jon2, Author
Nickels, Lyndsey2, Author
Moerel, Denise1, 2, Author
Dermody, Nadene1, 5, Author           
Yau, Shu6, 7, Author
Schmidt, Elaine8, 9, Author
Woolgar, Alexandra1, 2, 9, Author
1Perception in Action Research Centre (PARC), Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, ou_persistent22              
2Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, ou_persistent22              
3School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia, ou_persistent22              
4School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Australia, ou_persistent22              
5Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634549              
6School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia, ou_persistent22              
7University of Bristol, United Kingdom, ou_persistent22              
8Child Language Lab, Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, ou_persistent22              
9MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, United Kingdom, ou_persistent22              


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 Abstract: Purpose We aimed to develop a noninvasive neural test of language comprehension to use with nonspeaking children for whom standard behavioral testing is unreliable (e.g., minimally verbal autism). Our aims were threefold. First, we sought to establish the sensitivity of two auditory paradigms to elicit neural responses in individual neurotypical children. Second, we aimed to validate the use of a portable and accessible electroencephalography (EEG) system, by comparing its recordings to those of a research-grade system. Third, in light of substantial interindividual variability in individuals' neural responses, we assessed whether multivariate decoding methods could improve sensitivity. Method We tested the sensitivity of two child-friendly covert N400 paradigms. Thirty-one typically developing children listened to identical spoken words that were either strongly predicted by the preceding context or violated lexical-semantic expectations. Context was given by a cue word (Experiment 1) or sentence frame (Experiment 2), and participants either made an overall judgment on word relatedness or counted lexical-semantic violations. We measured EEG concurrently from a research-grade system, Neuroscan's SynAmps2, and an adapted gaming system, Emotiv's EPOC+. Results We found substantial interindividual variability in the timing and topology of N400-like effects. For both paradigms and EEG systems, traditional N400 effects at the expected sensors and time points were statistically significant in around 50% of individuals. Using multivariate analyses, detection rate increased to 88% of individuals for the research-grade system in the sentences paradigm, illustrating the robustness of this method in the face of interindividual variations in topography. Conclusions There was large interindividual variability in neural responses, suggesting interindividual variation in either the cognitive response to lexical-semantic violations and/or the neural substrate of that response. Around half of our neurotypical participants showed the expected N400 effect at the expected location and time points. A low-cost, accessible EEG system provided comparable data for univariate analysis but was not well suited to multivariate decoding. However, multivariate analyses with a research-grade EEG system increased our detection rate to 88% of individuals. This approach provides a strong foundation to establish a neural index of language comprehension in children with limited communication.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2020-03-222019-10-302020-04-182020-07-082020-07
 Publication Status: Issued
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1044/2020_JSLHR-19-00313
Other: epub 2020
PMID: 32640176
 Degree: -



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Project name : -
Grant ID : FT170100105; FT120100102
Funding program : Future Fellowships
Funding organization : Australian Research Council (ARC)
Project name : -
Grant ID : SUAG/052/G101400
Funding program : -
Funding organization : Medical Research Council MRC)

Source 1

Title: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: Rockville, MD : American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 63 (7) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 2361 - 2385 Identifier: ISSN: 1092-4388
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954927548270