Patterns in morpho-syntactic acquisition as precursors of developmental...


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Title Patterns in morpho-syntactic acquisition as precursors of developmental dyslexia in Dutch at-risk children
Period 07 / 2012 - 06 / 2013
Status Current
Research number OND1348436
Data Supplier NWO


Developmental dyslexia is currently viewed as the consequence of multiple underlying deficits related to morpho-syntactic and phonological processing [1]. This grant proposal compares the longitudinal analysis of early morpho-syntactic patterns in language production of children with a familial risk for dyslexia (FR-children) with those of controls. Two research questions are central. First, are the deviating morpho-syntactic patterns in the atypical productive language of the FR-children primary or secondary effects, i.e. are they the direct reflection of a more general linguistic impairment, or the developmental consequence of an underlying phonological impairment. Second, are the specific morpho-syntactic patterns an expression of the genetic risk for dyslexia (and act as a precursor) or are they exclusively related to later reading problems associated with developmental dyslexia (and act as a predictor). To investigate these important questions, a satellite study to the Dutch Dyslexia Programme [DDP;] was conducted, in which parental questionnaires on the children's vocabulary development, and elicited and spontaneous samples of language production from children in the DDP were collected, transcribed and analysed. Not only will we report these results, highlighting the specific differences with respect to vocabulary development (particularly, function words and verbs) and the use of morpho-syntactic markers between FR- and control children at distinct stages of psycholinguistic development between the age of 1.5 till 6 years, more importantly, we will connect these results to those of the DDP. This offers the unique opportunity to address the key issues in the dyslexia literature mentioned above. The DDP yielded rich and diverse data sets collected from the same children on perception processes during infancy, cognitive and neuropsychological capacities during pre-literacy development, and reading acquisition during primary school years. Crucial information on language production in the pre-school years can now be added. Most data sets have been fully analysed. Since all data on the first years of reading acquisition have recently become available for all children from the DDP study, we are now in the unique position to conduct additional analyses relating the morpho-syntactic data with reading fluency and emerging reading difficulties. Thus, results can now be interpreted within the broader theoretical perspective of precursors and predictors for dyslexia. The research will be disseminated in four articles to be submitted to peer-reviewed journals. The additional analyses and the writing process for finalising these journal articles are planned to be performed in a period of 12 months (0,4 fte). There is close collaboration with the Dutch SLI (Specific Language Impairment) project, coordinated by prof.dr.F. Wijnen, Utrecht University, and with the Finnish Jyväskylä Longitudinal Dyslexia (JLD) study, coordinated by prof.dr. H. Lyytinen, and prof. dr. Paavo Leppänen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Key words: developmental dyslexia, precursors, predictors, atypical language acquisition, morpho-syntactic acquisition

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Researcher Drs. E.M. Krikhaar
Project leader Prof.dr. B.A.M. Maassen

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