[en] Purpose: This study assesses the hypothesis of a limitation in attentional allocation capacity as underlying poor sentence comprehension in children with SLI.
Method: Fifteen children with SLI, 15 age-matched controls, and 15 grammar-matched controls. Sixty sentences were presented in isolation, and 60 sentences were presented with a concurrent non-linguistic target-detection task. If poor attentional allocation capacity is a core deficit in SLI, they should be impaired to a greater extent in the dual task condition relative to the grammatical-age controls. On the contrary, a comparable performance decrement under the dual-task condition in children with SLI and younger language controls would attest of a limitation in attentional allocation capacity in children with SLI that is not disproportionate to their language level.
Results: Sentence comprehension was affected by the dual-task condition to a greater extent in children with SLI relative to age-controls, but not relative to grammatical-controls.
Conclusions: Our study does not support limitations in attentional allocation capacity as representing a core deficit in SLI. Rather, our data show that these children show attentional allocation capacity comparable to that of younger children having similar language level, suggesting that SLI is characterized by a slowed development of both attentional and language domains.