Neurobiological Markers of Rhythm Perception in Children with Specific Language Impairment
The possible links between music and language continue to intrigue researchers, who are capable of investigating from their similar structures to shared human perception mechanism. In children with typical development (TD), perception to regular musical rhythm was positively correlated to grammar ability, and regular musical rhythm had a potentially positive influence on subsequent spoken grammar task performance. Behavioral studies suggest that children with Specific Language Impairments (SLI) have deficits in rhythm and meter perception along with the impairments in their lexical and grammatical abilities. The study tested the potential differences in the underlying brain mechanisms between the group of TD and the group of SLI and investigated the correlations between beat perception sensitivity from neural oscillations and expressive language measures. Eighteen children with SLI and sixty-six age-matched children with TD listened to regular beats with different placement of accents. Brain oscillations were measured using EEG system. The results suggested that the SLI population was less sensitive in beat perception than TD, and shared neural processing for rhythm and grammar might exist. The findings of neural oscillations were interpreted in the framework of Dynamic Attending Theory. Complementing ongoing studies in the lab, the findings would facilitate future research on the early identification and intervention of SLI.