Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Cognitive Neuroscience


Valerie Shafer

Subject Categories

Cognitive Neuroscience


working memory, specific language impairment, developmental language disorder, n-back, attention, EEG, P300, P3b


In addition to language deficits, children with Specific Language Impairment often show deficits in tests of various aspects of working memory, including capacity, updating, and selective attention. The purpose of the present study is to examine the specific drivers of differences in working memory processing in 8–11 year-old children with and without SLI using behavioral and electrophysiological measures. Participants completed an n-back task with three working memory load conditions (0-back, 1-back, 2-back), with the addition of distractor trials at the 1-back and 2-back levels. The SLI group performed significantly less accurately across all task conditions. The children with SLI also showed attenuated P1 and P3 Event Related Potential (ERP) amplitudes, and a significantly more negative positive slow wave (PSW) following the P3 response. Taken together, these results suggest that the children with SLI struggled with sustained attention to the task, indicating deficits in attentional allocation. These children might also have struggled with task demands due to reduced working memory capacity compared to age-matched typically developing children.