Studying language development through event-related potentials provides specific information regarding how the brain processes specific aspects of language over time. In this study, the P600 component, a positive wave occurring approximately 600 ms post-stimulus and known for detecting syntactic errors, was specifically analyzed. Thirty children between the ages of 5 and 12 years listened to linguistically correct, syntactically incorrect, and semantically incorrect sentences in three ear conditions: monaurally to the right ear, monaurally to the left ear, and binaurally. The participants were instructed to judge the sentences to be correct or incorrect. Comparisons were then made of the latency and amplitude of the P600 between the age groups, sentence types, and ear conditions. The results of this study indicate that younger children exhibit later latencies and higher amplitudes than do adults. The study also suggests that syntactic processing becomes fully established around the age of 8 to 9 years. In reference to ear condition, this study found that ear condition may be a factor in a child's ability to recognize syntax. This was the first study that investigated developmental ERPs and ear condition. Therefore, this finding is a result of interest that needs to be further explored in future studies. The current study also suggests that the right ear advantage (REA) phenomenon may exist neurologically in older ages with monotic sentences. This is another area that would benefit from additional research as this phenomenon has not been previously described.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





P600, event-related potentials, right ear advantage, language development, syntax