Lexical Representations of Late-talking Preschoolers: An ERP study of Phonetically Similar Words

[Speaker] Lu, Hsin-hui:1
[Co-author] Tsao, Feng-ming:1
1:National Taiwan University (Taiwan)

Reduced sensitivity to phonetic detail of words hinders development of vocabulary in non-tonal language (e.g., English) late-talking children. For tonal language learners, lexical tone is essential to construct accurate lexical representations. This event-related potentials (ERPs) study aimed to investigate whether late-talking children encoded lexical tone detail. Four-year-old late-talking children (LT group, n = 18) and chronological age matched typically-developing counterparts (TD group, n = 23) were presented with pictures of familiar objects and listened to words that were either corresponding to objects or lexical-tone minimal pairs (i.e., phonetically incongruent words). Results showed that phonetically incongruent words elicited greater N400 components from 370 to 670 ms (N400 effect) in the centro-parietal region than corresponding words. Additionally, N400 amplitudes of TD group varied with acoustic differences between words, whereas acoustic similarity effect was not found in LT group. Results demonstrates that lexical representations of late-talking children encode less detail of lexical tones.
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