Effect of onset and rhyme primes in preschoolers with typical development and specific language impairment

Shelley Gray, Mark Reiser, Shara Brinkley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: In this study, the authors used cued shadowing to examine children's phonological word-form representations by studying the effects of onset and rhyme primes on lexical access. Method: Twenty-five preschoolerswith specific language impairment (SLI; hereafter known as the SLI group), 24 age- and gendermatched children (AM group), and 20 vocabulary- and gendermatched children (VM group) participated. Children listened to pairs of words and repeated the second word as quickly as they could. Primes included words with overlapping onsets, words with overlapping rimes, and identical or unrelated words. Results: As expected, unrelated words inhibited production in the AM and VM groups. Overlapping rimes primed production in the AM group. No inhibitory or priming effects were found for the SLI group. Conclusion: Phonological priming may be used to study the phonological representations of preschool-age children. Results suggest that none of the groups accessed words incrementally. Priming for overlapping rimes by the AM but not the VM or SLI groups may indicate that the AM group benefited from lexical organization favoring nucleus + rime organization that has not yet developed for the VM or SLI groups. The lack of inhibition in the SLI group suggests that their phonological representations were not detailed enough to prime words in their lexicon or that they did not process the prime or target words.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-44
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012


  • Phonological representation
  • Preschool
  • Priming
  • Specific language impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of onset and rhyme primes in preschoolers with typical development and specific language impairment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this