Learning, forgetting, and relearning: Skill learning in children with language impairment

Esther Adi-Japha, Haia Abu-Asba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: The current study tested whether the difficulties of children with specific language impairment (SLI) in skill acquisition are related to learning processes that occur while practicing a new skill or to the passage of time between practice and later performance.

Method: The acquisition and retention of a new complex grapho-motor symbol were studied in 5-year-old children with SLI and peers matched for age and nonverbal IQ. The children practiced the production of the symbol for 4 consecutive days. Retention testing took place 10 days later.

Results: Children with SLI began each practice day slower than their peers but attained similar levels of performance by its end. Although they increased their performance speed within sessions more than their peers, they did not retain their learning as well between sessions. The loss in speed was largest in the 10-day retention interval. They were also less accurate, but accuracy differences decreased over time. Between-session group differences in speed could not fully be accounted for based on fine motor skills.

Conclusions: In spite of effective within-session learning, children with SLI did not retain the new skill well. The deficit may be attributed to task forgetting in the presence of delayed consolidation processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)696-707
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.


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