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FROM FIRST WORDS TO GRAMMAR IN CHILDREN WITH FOCAL BRAIN INJURY Elizabeth Bates University of California San Diego Donna Thal San Diego State University Doris Trauner University of California San Diego Judi Fenson Children s Hospital Research Center San Diego Dorothy Aram Emerson College Julie Eisele Skidmore College Ruth Nass New York University Medical Center In D Thal J Reilly Eds Special issue on Origins of Language Disorders Developmental Neuropsychology 1997 13 275 343 This research was supported by NIH NIDCD Program Project P50 DC01289 0351 Origins of communicative disorders to Elizabeth Bates and by a grant from the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation We are grateful to Larry Juarez and Meiti Opie for assistance in manuscript preparation ABSTRACT The effects of focal brain injury are investigated in the first stages of language development during the passage from first words to grammar Parent report and or free speech data are reported for 53 infants and preschool children between 10 44 months of age All children had suffered a single unilateral brain injury to the left or right hemisphere incurred before six months of age usually in the pre or perinatal period This is the period in which we should expect to see maximal plasticity but it is also the period in which the initial specializations of particular cortical regions ought to be most evident In direct contradiction of hypotheses based on the adult aphasia literature results from 10 17 months suggest that children with righthemisphere injuries are at greater risk for delays in word comprehension and in the gestures that normally precede and accompany language onset Although there were no differences between left vs right hemisphere injury per se on expressive language children whose lesions include the left temporal lobe did show significantly greater delays in expressive vocabulary and grammar throughout the period from 10 44 months There were no specific deficits associated with left frontal

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