The infant as a prelinguistic model for language learning impairments: Predicting from event-related potentials to behavior

April A. Benasich, Naseem Choudhury, Jennifer T. Friedman, Teresa Realpe-Bonilla, Cecylia Chojnowska, Zhenkun Gou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Associations between efficient processing of brief, rapidly presented, successive stimuli and language learning impairments (LLI) in older children and adults have been well documented. In this paper we examine the role that impaired rapid auditory processing (RAP) might play during early language acquisition. Using behavioral measures we have demonstrated that RAP abilities in infancy are critically linked to later language abilities for both non-speech and speech stimuli. Variance in infant RAP thresholds reliably predict language outcome at 3 years-of-age for infants at risk for LLI and control infants. We present data here describing patterns of electrocortical (EEG/ERP) activation at 6 month-of-age to the same non-verbal stimuli used in our behavioral studies. Well-defined differences were seen between infants from families with a history of LLI (FH+) and FH- controls in the amplitude of the mismatch response (MMR) as well as the latency of the N250 component in the 70 ms ISI condition only. Smaller mismatch responses and delayed onsets of the N250 component were seen in the FH+ group. The latency differences in the N 250 component, but not the MMR amplitude variation, were significantly related to 24-month language outcome. Such converging tasks provide the opportunity to examine early precursors of LLI and allow the opportunity for earlier identification and intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-411
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Auditory perception
  • Development
  • EEG
  • Language acquisition
  • Rapid auditory processing
  • Speech


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