Receptive and expressive language ability differentially support symbolic understanding over time:picture comprehension in late talking and typically developing children

Cheung, Rachael W and Hartley, Calum and Monaghan, Padraic (2021) Receptive and expressive language ability differentially support symbolic understanding over time:picture comprehension in late talking and typically developing children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. ISSN 0022-0965 (In Press)

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Abstract

Symbols are a hallmark of human communication, and a key question is how children’s emerging language skills relate to their ability to comprehend symbols. In particular, receptive and expressive vocabulary may have related, but distinct, roles across early development. In a longitudinal study of late talking (LT) and typically developing (TD) children, we differentiated the extent to which expressive and receptive language skills predicted symbolic understanding as reflected in picture comprehension, and how language skills inter-related with social skills. LT and TD children were tested on a picture comprehension task that manipulated the availability of verbal labels at 2.0 – 2.4 years and 3.5 – 3.9 years. While all children improved in accuracy over time as expected, TD children exhibited an advantage over LT children, despite both groups utilising verbal labels to inform their mapping of picture-object relationships. Receptive and expressive vocabulary also differed in their contribution at different ages: receptive vocabulary predicted performance at ~2-years-old, and expressive vocabulary predicted performance at ~3.5-years-old. Task performance at 3.5-years-old was predicted by earlier receptive vocabulary, but this effect was largely mediated by concurrent expressive vocabulary. Social ability across the whole sample at ~2-years-old also predicted and mediated the effect of receptive vocabulary on concurrent task performance. These findings suggest that LT children may have delays in developing picture comprehension over time, and also that social ability and language skills may differentially relate to symbolic understanding at key moments across development.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
ID Code:
159797
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
20 Sep 2021 09:10
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
In Press
Last Modified:
18 Oct 2021 05:14