Wed 4 Feb, 13.00 in Jubilee G36
Zoe Hopkins The contribution of inhibitory control to language alignment in children with autism
Alignment is the tendency of speakers to copy one another’s language when in conversation. Alignment abilities are intact in children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who converge language with a conversational partner to the same extent as typical children, both in experimental (Allen et al, 2011) and naturalistic (Hopkins et al., 2015) interactions.
It is not known, however, whether the mechanisms underpinning alignment behaviour are the same or different in ASD and typical children. The present study examined lexical alignment in ASD children, and the role of inhibitory mechanisms in the alignment process. Inhibitory control has been implicated in language processing, particularly in a dialogic context (e.g. Brown-Schmidt, 2009). It can also be an area of impairment for ASD children (Hill, 2004).
12 ASD children were matched pair-wise to typical children on the basis of (1) chronological and (2) verbal age. Children completed an embedded lexical priming task, along with delay (Go/No-Go task) and conflict inhibitory (Junior Hayling task) control measures. There was a relationship between alignment and delay but not conflict inhibition, a finding discussed with reference to current alignment theory, as well as task exigencies.