, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 243-251

Cerebellar-dependent delay eyeblink conditioning in adolescents with Specific Language Impairment

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Abstract

Cerebellar impairments have been hypothesized as part of the pathogenesis of Specific Language Impairment (SLI), although direct evidence of cerebellar involvement is sparse. Eyeblink Conditioning (EBC) is a learning task with well documented cerebellar pathways. This is the first study of EBC in affected adolescents and controls. 16 adolescent controls, 15 adolescents with SLI, and 12 adult controls participated in a delay EBC task. Affected children had low general language performance, grammatical deficits but no speech impairments. The affected group did not differ from the control adolescent or control adult group, showing intact cerebellar functioning on the EBC task. This study did not support cerebellar impairment at the level of basic learning pathways as part of the pathogenesis of SLI. Outcomes do not rule out cerebellar influences on speech impairment, or possible other forms of cerebellar functioning as contributing to SLI.