Developmental Language Disorders: From Phenotypes to Etiologies

Developmental Language Disorders: From Phenotypes to Etiologies

Developmental Language Disorders: From Phenotypes to Etiologies

Developmental Language Disorders: From Phenotypes to Etiologies

Synopsis

Developmental Language Disorders: From Phenotypes to Etiologies is based on the recent conference of the same name sponsored by the Merrill Advanced Studies Center of the University of Kansas. In the past 10 years, considerable advances have taken place in our understanding of genetic and environmental influences on language disorders in children. Significant research in behavioral phenotypes, associated neurocortical processes, and the genetics of language disorders has laid the foundation for further breakthroughs in understanding the reasons for overlapping etiologies, as well as the unique aspects of some phenotypes. Too often the findings are disseminated in a fragmented way because of the discrete diagnostic categories of affectedness. This volume attempts to assimilate and integrate the findings of the transdisciplinary research toward a more coherent picture of behavioral descriptions, brain imaging studies, genetics, and intervention technologies in language impairment. The contributing authors are all scholars with active programs of research funded by the National Institutes of Health involving diverse clinical groups of children with language impairments.

Excerpt

The investigation of language impairments in children has an extensive record. With the exception of the condition now classified as specific language impairment (SLI), much of the literature has focused on the clinical conditions in which language impairment appears as a concomitant condition, such as Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, mental retardation, autism, and, more recently, fragile X syndrome. Funding for research and the associated culture of review has, within the United States at least, been defined more by the clinical categories than the common elements of language impairment. This separation of effort has led to important and fundamental discoveries and has had many advantages, not the least of which is the successful advocacy of funding according to diagnostic category.

This approach to scholarship is less effective in the modern era because advances in genetics necessitate precision in the measurement of the behavioral phenotypes, and the fact that language impairments cross many diagnostic categories and can obscure the genetics of intellectual impairment, social competencies, or other related attributes. Furthermore, language is a key predictor of developmental outcomes and a salient way for families to note affectedness. New insights about genetic effects bring increased recognition of the finely tuned interactions of neurocortical, genetic, and behavioral elements of inherited factors, and the role of environmental events such as intervention. On the other hand, new developments in linguistic theory and application to children with language . . .

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