The central aim of this project is to integrate theories of language production and motor action into new accounts of specific language impairment (SLI). SLI is a disorder that affects approximately 7% of children at the time they enter kindergarten. Because of the longstanding adverse academic, social, and communicative consequences of SLI, it is imperative to understand the bases of the disorder for the development of appropriate intervention strategies. Many current approaches to SLI focus exclusively on language factors. Yet language is expressed through movement, and deficits in limb motor skill have been implicated in children with SLI. Current neurophysiological hypotheses about relations between language and action further support a rethinking of how these domains interact in normal and disordered development. The present studies assess whether the well documented co-occurrence between language and limb motor deficits results either from a disorder involving common mechanisms that influence both language and motor processing or rather are independent disorders that tend to appear in tandem (i.e., a co-morbidity). As a related aim, we follow the co- occurrence of language and limb motor deficits longitudinally from the preschool into the school years to track how early limb motor deficits predict outcome. We hypothesize that there are shared mechanisms that underlie the language and the motor deficits observed in SLI. That is, more general difficulties in sequencing, timing, and learning underlie both the grammatical and lexical retrieval deficits that are the hallmark of SLI and the co- occurring limb motor deficits. However, it is also possible that language and motor deficits are independent of each other and that a more general co-morbidity explains why these domains both tend to be affected in children with SLI. To investigate language, speech motor, and limb motor development in children with SLI, we incorporate measures and analyses from both psycholinguistics and speech motor control. The ultimate goal of this research is to translate scientific discoveries about language production and motor action into designing appropriate intervention programs for young children with language impairment. For example, if a common mechanism, such as timing or sequencing, is found to underlie deficits in language processing and limb movement, a more general intervention approach targeted toward this aspect of procedural memory would be indicated.

Public Health Relevance

Children with specific language impairment have longstanding deficits that affect their language development along with their social adjustment and academic achievement. The goal of this research is to translate recent scientific discoveries about language production and motor action into understanding the mechanisms that underlie specific language impairment and into designing appropriate intervention programs for these children.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Language and Communication Study Section (LCOM)
Program Officer
Cooper, Judith
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Purdue University
Other Health Professions
Schools of Arts and Sciences
West Lafayette
United States
Zip Code
Gladfelter, Allison; Goffman, Lisa (2013) The Influence of Prosodic Stress Patterns and Semantic Depth on Novel Word Learning in Typically Developing Children. Lang Learn Dev 9:151-174
Chakraborty, Rahul; Shanmugam, Ramalingam (2011) Influence of L2 proficiency on kinematic duration of single words: Real and novel word production by Bengali-English speakers. Int J Speech Lang Pathol 13:536-48
Chakraborty, Rahul; Goffman, Lisa (2011) Production of lexical stress in non-native speakers of American English: kinematic correlates of stress and transfer. J Speech Lang Hear Res 54:821-35
Chakraborty, Rahul; Domsch, Celeste; Gonzales, Maria D (2011) Articulatory behaviors of nonnative speakers: role of l2 proficiency and accent modification. Percept Mot Skills 113:311-30
Ertmer, David J; Goffman, Lisa (2011) Speech production accuracy and variability in young cochlear implant recipients: comparisons with typically developing age-peers. J Speech Lang Hear Res 54:177-89
Heisler, Lori; Goffman, Lisa; Younger, Barbara (2010) Lexical and articulatory interactions in children's language production. Dev Sci 13:722-30
Zelaznik, Howard N; Goffman, Lisa (2010) Generalized motor abilities and timing behavior in children with specific language impairment. J Speech Lang Hear Res 53:383-93
Deevy, Patricia; Weil, Lisa Wisman; Leonard, Laurence B et al. (2010) Extending use of the NRT to preschool-age children with and without specific language impairment. Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch 41:277-88
Richtsmeier, Peter T; Gerken, LouAnn; Goffman, Lisa et al. (2009) Statistical frequency in perception affects children's lexical production. Cognition 111:372-7
Goffman, Lisa; Smith, Anne; Heisler, Lori et al. (2008) The breadth of coarticulatory units in children and adults. J Speech Lang Hear Res 51:1424-37

Showing the most recent 10 out of 16 publications