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S1_JSHLR-23-00600kueser.pdf (906.34 kB)

Event probability in DLD (Keuser et al., 2024)

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posted on 2024-04-04, 17:03 authored by Justin B. Kueser, Arielle Borovsky, Patricia Deevy, Mine Muezzinoglu, Claney Outzen, Laurence B. Leonard

Purpose: Children with developmental language disorder (DLD) tend to interpret noncanonical sentences like passives using event probability (EP) information regardless of structure (e.g., by interpreting “The dog was chased by the squirrel” as “The dog chased the squirrel”). Verbs are a major source of EP information in adults and children with typical development (TD), who know that “chase” implies an unequal relationship among participants. Individuals with DLD have poor verb knowledge and verb-based sentence processing. Yet, they also appear to rely more on EP information than their peers. This paradox raises two questions: (a) How do children with DLD use verb-based EP information alongside other information in online passive sentence interpretation? (b) How does verb vocabulary knowledge support EP information use?

Method: We created novel EP biases by showing animations of agents with consistent action tendencies (e.g., clumsy vs. helpful actions). We then used eye tracking to examine how this EP information was used during online passive sentence processing. Participants were 4- to 5-year-old children with DLD (n = 20) and same-age peers with TD (n = 20).

Results: In Experiment 1, children with DLD quickly integrated verb-based EP information with morphosyntax close to the verb but failed to do so with distant morphosyntax. In Experiment 2, the quality of children’s sentence-specific verb vocabulary knowledge was positively associated with the use of EP information in both groups.

Conclusion: Depending on the morphosyntactic context, children with DLD and TD used EP information differently, but verb vocabulary knowledge aided its use.

Supplemental Material S1. Verb group properties.

Kueser, J. B., Borovsky, A., Deevy, P., Muezzinoglu, M., Outzen, C., & Leonard, L. B. (2024). Verb vocabulary supports event probability use in developmental language disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 67(5), 1490–1513.


Justin B. Kueser was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) Grants F31 DC018435 and R01 DC018593. Arielle Borovsky was supported by NIDCD Grant R01 DC018593. Laurence B. Leonard and Patricia Deevy were supported by NIDCD Grant R01 DC014708.