Weaknesses in lexical-semantic knowledge among college students with specific learning disabilities: Evidence from a semantic fluency task

Jessica Hall, Karla K. McGregor, Jacob Oleson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine whether deficits in executive function and lexical-semantic memory compromise the linguistic performance of young adults with specific learning disabilities (LD) enrolled in postsecondary studies. Method: One hundred eighty-five students with LD (n = 53) or normal language development (ND, n = 132) named items in the categories animals and food for 1 minute for each category and completed tests of lexical-semantic knowledge and executive control of memory. Groups were compared on total names, mean cluster size, frequency of embedded clusters, frequency of cluster switches, and change in fluency over time. Secondary analyses of variability within the LD group were also conducted. Results: The LD group was less fluent than the ND group. Within the LD group, lexical-semantic knowledge predicted semantic fluency and cluster size; executive control of memory predicted semantic fluency and cluster switches. The LD group produced smaller clusters and fewer embedded clusters than the ND group. Groups did not differ in switching or change over time. Conclusions: Deficits in the lexical-semantic system associated with LD may persist into young adulthood, even among those who have managed their disability well enough to attend college. Lexical-semantic deficits are associated with compromised semantic fluency, and the two problems are more likely among students with more severe disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-653
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume60
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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