Under-resourced or overloaded? : Rethinking working memory deficits in developmental language disorder

Jones, Samuel and Westermann, Gert (2022) Under-resourced or overloaded? : Rethinking working memory deficits in developmental language disorder. Psychological Review, 129 (6). pp. 1358-1372. ISSN 0033-295X

[thumbnail of jones_westermann_2021]
Text (jones_westermann_2021)
jones_westermann_2021.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (987kB)


Dominant theoretical accounts of developmental language disorder (DLD) commonly invoke workingmemory capacity limitations. In the current report, we present an alternative view: That working memory in DLD is not under-resourced but overloaded due to operating on speech representations with low discriminability. This account is developed through computational simulations involving deep convolutional neural networks trained on spoken word spectrograms in which information is either retained tomimic typical development or degraded to mimic the auditory processing deficits identified among some childrenwith DLD. We assess not only spoken word recognition accuracy and predictive probability and entropy (i.e., predictive distribution spread), but also use mean-field-theory based manifold analysis to assess; (a) internal speech representation dimensionality and (b) classification capacity, a measure of the networks’ ability to isolate any given internal speech representation that is used as a proxy for attentional control.We show that instantiating a low-level auditory processing deficit results in the formation of internal speech representations with atypically high dimensionality, and that classification capacity is exhausted due to low representation separability. These representation and control deficits underpin not only lower performance accuracy but also greater uncertainty even when making accurate predictions in a simulated spoken word recognition task (i.e., predictive distributions with low maximum probability and high entropy), which replicates the response delays and word finding difficulties often seen in DLD. Overall, these simulations demonstrate a theoretical account of speech representation and processing deficits in DLD in which working memory capacity limitations play no causal role.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Psychological Review
Additional Information:
©American Psychological Association, 2022. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/rev0000338
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? developmental language disorder (dld)spoken word recognitionword learningconvolutional neural networkmanifold geometryhistory and philosophy of sciencegeneral psychologypsychology(all) ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
05 Oct 2021 09:30
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 11:43