Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) are at risk for reading disability and academic failure, and there remains a lack of scientific consensus about the underlying deficits that may explain their language difficulties. This study examined how language ability predicts preschoolers' eye movements during a naturalistic storybook reading task, a possible indicator of comprehension processes in real-time. We used eye-tracking measures to examine comprehension processes in 49 preschoolers with wide-ranging language abilities, using language skill as a continuous predictor variable. Participants viewed and listened to a storybook presented on an eye-tracking computer. Portions of each illustration that corresponded with a noun phrase in the text were considered target images during the time course of the spoken referent. Eye-tracking analyses revealed that children had similar latency to target images regardless of language level. However, language ability was a significant predictor of proportion of fixations; children with higher language skills had more fixations on target images and less fixations on control images than children with lower language skills. These results suggest that children with lower language abilities attended to the story but did not sufficiently sustain attention to relevant images and continued to attend to extraneous images after the onset of spoken noun phrases. Speech-language pathologists and early childhood educators should be aware that children with language difficulties may need help identifying what is most important to attend to during shared storybook reading.
College and Department
David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Nicholls, Emily Joy, "Language-Mediated Eye Behaviors During Storybook Reading as aFunction of Preschool Language Ability" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 9139.
developmental language disorder, eye-tracking, inhibition, comprehension