Abstract

Objective: The study of procedural learning abilities in children with Specific Language Impairment (Procedural Deficit Hypothesis, PDH) remains a relatively unexplored field of research. Since most evidence comes from studies using tasks which involve learning of sequenced patterns, research using other procedural learning paradigms (like motor adaptation tasks) is needed to further evaluate the PDH in children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Therefore, in this study, we examined the ability of children with and without SLI to learn, consolidate and generalize a mirror-tracing task, a paradigm that does not involve sequence learning and had never been used in SLI. Method: Children with SLI and typical developing (TD) matched children participated in the study. Children with SLI were included if they scored below −1.25 SD of the expected normative performance in at least 2 language areas. Both groups had to trace ten 5-pointed stars seen only in mirror-reversed view in two learning sessions separated by a one-week delay. The transfer phase consisted in tracing a new figure. The time required to complete the tracing, and the number of errors committed were recorded. Results: Preliminary analyses (n = 16) show that both groups learned comparably the mirror drawing skill (p = .88) and retained the ability at the same level (p = .38) over a one week delay. Finally, there was a similar transfer effect in both groups (p = .20). Conclusion(s): Overall, these results, which show similar rates of learning, consolidation and transfer in SLI and TD children, indicate that SLI is not characterized by a global procedural learning deficit.