Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Functional Maturity of Brain Structures in Children Aged 7-8 with Differing Levels of Speech Development

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Functional Maturity of Brain Structures in Children Aged 7-8 with Differing Levels of Speech Development

Article excerpt

First graders (aged 7-8) in a public elementary school served as subjects for this study. The structural components of their speech were analyzed to determine speech maturity level; total EEG activity was analyzed to assess the functional maturity of brain structures. Results showed that children with levels of speech below the age norm exhibited abnormal EEG patterns suggesting immaturity of the cerebral cortex and fronto-thalamic regulatory system, as well as impairments in the functioning of the mesodiencephalic structures and nonspecific activation systems. Abnormalities in the functioning of brain regulatory systems and the presence of local abnormalities in EEG activity of deep origin are important factors in determining the severity of functional speech impairments.

Keywords: electroencephalogram (EEG), speech disorders, functional maturity of brain structures.

En el presente estudio participaron alumnos de primer grado de una escuela pública (7-8 años). Fueron analizados los componentes estructurales de su habla para determinar el nivel de madurez de la misma; se analizó la actividad total EEG para evaluar la madurez funcional de las estructuras cerebrales. Los resultados mostraron que niños con niveles de habla por debajo de la norma, presentaban patrones anómalos de EEG sugiriendo inmadurez en el cortex cerebral y en el sistema de reguladores frontotalámicos, así como mejora en el funcionamiento de las estructuras mesodiencefálicas y sistemas de activación no específicos. Las anomalías en el funcionamiento de los sistemas reguladores del cerebro y la presencia de anomalías locales en la actividad EEG de origen más profundo son factores importantes a la hora de determinar la severidad del deterioro en el habla.

Palabras clave: electroencefalograma (EEG), desórdenes del habla, madurez funcional de las estructuras cerebrales.

Children's elementary school performance success is a function of a number of factors, among which speech development plays a particularly important role. According to numerous studies, every year there is an increase in the number of first graders with various impairments of speech development, such as phonetic speech defects, phonetic-phonemic immaturity, and general delay in speech development. The situation with respect to speech impairments is further complicated by the fact that less than adequate speech performance has a negative effect on sensory, intellectual and affective development, and on self-discipline (Bezrukikh & Loginova, 2002; Onda, 2003). This impedes development of adequate school performance. According to results obtained by the Scientific Research Institute for Developmental Physiology of the Russian Academy of Education, more than 60% of children identified as experiencing difficulties with schoolwork show impairment of speech development (Bezrukikh & Kreschenko, 2003; Dubrovinskaya, Farber, & Bezrukikh, 2000).

The developmental period occurring between ages 6 and 8 years is a critical one for the maturation of voluntary higher nervous functions (HNF). Improvement in cognitive functioning during this developmental phase depends, to a significant extent, on the functional maturity of the brain. Many researchers associate the delays in HNF development and learning difficulties experienced by children with abnormal speech development with inadequate functional maturity of the central nervous system (CNS) (Akhutina, 1998; Fotekova, 2003; Kiroy, 2002; Yastrebova, 2000). The maturation of rhythmogenic mechanisms of the cerebral cortex, as well as the development of regulatory processes controlled by subcortical structures, including those of the brain stem, play an important role in the progressive development of mental functions (Machinskaya, Lukashevich, & Fishman, 1997).

One objective and widely used approach to analysis of the functional maturity of the brain is the study of total electroencephalic activity (EEG). …

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