The overall objective of the proposed research is to delineate, and make sense of, the process of lexical development and its relations to socio-communicative development, grammatical development, and both general and specific aspects of nonlinguistic cognitive development. The research will focus on the language and cognitive development of children with Williams syndrome and children with Down syndrome. Williams syndrome is associated with relative strengths in language (especially concrete vocabulary and grammar) and verbal short-term memory and severe weakness in visuospatial cognition. In contrast, Down syndrome is associated with severe weaknesses in expressive language (especially grammar) and in verbal short-term memory and relative strength in nonlinguistic aspects of cognition. Because of these differences in the general nature of the relations between language and nonlinguistic cognition, inclusion of these two groups of children in the same studies provides a unique opportunity to distinguish factors that are likely to be universal and necessary to language development from those that are specific to particular rates or paths to language development. The proposed research consists of a longitudinal study of early language and cognitive development beginning in late infancy, a longitudinal study of cognitive and language development of school-age children as measured by standardized assessments, and cross-sectional studies of language development, especially socio-communicative development. Both observational and experimental methods will be used. There are three specific aims. The first is to delineate the different types of early lexical growth curves and examinetheir relations to later patterns of language and cognitive development. The second is to examine socio-communicative development and its role in language and cognitive development. The third is to determine the longitudinal trajectories of language and cognitive abilities of children with Williams syndrome and factors that influence these trajectories. The researchwill have implications both for theoretical models of the relations between language and cognitive development and for the design of cognitive, language, and reading intervention for children with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

Public Health Relevance

The results of the proposed research will provide a basis for recommendations regarding speech/language and developmental intervention for children with developmental delay in birth - 3 and preschool programs. The results also will increase the research foundation for the design of language, social skills, and reading intervention for school age children with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
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Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
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Oster-Granite, Mary Lou
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University of Louisville
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Cashon, Cara H; Ha, Oh-Ryeong; DeNicola, Christopher A et al. (2013) Toddlers with Williams syndrome process upright but not inverted faces holistically. J Autism Dev Disord 43:2549-57
Leyfer, Ovsanna; John, Angela E; Woodruff-Borden, Janet et al. (2012) Factor Structure of the Children's Behavior Questionnaire in Children with Williams Syndrome. J Autism Dev Disord :
Mervis, Carolyn B; Kistler, Doris J; John, Angela E et al. (2012) Longitudinal assessment of intellectual abilities of children with Williams syndrome: multilevel modeling of performance on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test-Second Edition. Am J Intellect Dev Disabil 117:134-55
John, Angela E; Mervis, Carolyn B (2010) Sensory modulation impairments in children with Williams syndrome. Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet 154C:266-76
Woodruff-Borden, Janet; Kistler, Doris J; Henderson, Danielle R et al. (2010) Longitudinal course of anxiety in children and adolescents with Williams syndrome. Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet 154C:277-90
Marler, Jeffrey A; Sitcovsky, Jessica L; Mervis, Carolyn B et al. (2010) Auditory function and hearing loss in children and adults with Williams syndrome: cochlear impairment in individuals with otherwise normal hearing. Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet 154C:249-65
John, Angela E; Mervis, Carolyn B (2010) Comprehension of the communicative intent behind pointing and gazing gestures by young children with Williams syndrome or Down syndrome. J Speech Lang Hear Res 53:950-60
Mervis, Carolyn B; John, Angela E (2010) Cognitive and behavioral characteristics of children with Williams syndrome: implications for intervention approaches. Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet 154C:229-48
Leyfer, Ovsanna; Woodruff-Borden, Janet; Mervis, Carolyn B (2009) Anxiety Disorders in Children with Williams Syndrome, Their Mothers, and Their Siblings: Implications for the Etiology of Anxiety Disorders. J Neurodev Disord 1:4-14
Klein-Tasman, Bonita P; Phillips, Kristin D; Lord, Catherine et al. (2009) Overlap with the autism spectrum in young children with Williams syndrome. J Dev Behav Pediatr 30:289-99

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