Attentional modulation of interhemispheric (a)symmetry in children with developmental language disorder

Doris Hernández*, Salme Kärkkäinen, Terhi Tulonen, Päivi Helenius, Riitta Salmelin, Tiina Parviainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The nature of auditory processing problems in children with developmental language disorder (DLD) is still poorly understood. Much research has been devoted to determining the extent to which DLD is associated with general auditory versus language-specific dysfunction. However, less emphasis has been given to the role of different task conditions in these dysfunctions. We explored whether children with DLD demonstrate atypical interhemispheric asymmetry during the auditory processing of speech and non-speech sounds and whether this interhemispheric balance is modulated by attention. Magnetoencephalography was used to record auditory evoked fields in 18 children (9 to 10 years old), 9 with DLD and 9 with language typical development, during active or passive listening to speech and non-speech sounds. A linear mixed model analysis revealed a bilateral effect of attention in both groups. Participants with DLD demonstrated atypical interhemispheric asymmetry, specifically in the later (185–600 ms) time window but only during the passive listening condition. During the active task, the DLD group did not differ from the typically developed children in terms of hemispheric balance of activation. Our results support the idea of an altered interhemispheric balance in passive auditory response properties in DLD. We further suggest that an active task condition, or top–down attention, can help to regain leftward lateralization, particularly in a later stage of activation. Our study highlights the highly dynamic and interhemispheric nature of auditory processing, which may contribute to the variability in reports of auditory language processing deficits in DLD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17904
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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