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March 2017

Laterns floating in the night's sky

In a new study, funded by the MRC, we will use state-of-the-art methods for acquisition and analysis of brain imaging data and detailed behavioural testing to study a large population of children with a range of language learning abilities. We will recruit eighty children with impairments previously identified in a large study screening school-aged children in Surrey (SCALES study run by project partner Prof. Norbury, UCL) and 80 children experiencing typical language development. We aim to provide a detailed characterisation of the structure and function of the brain networks underlying developmental language disorder in these children. We will specifically test two hypotheses, namely that children with developmental language disorders show: (i) structural and functional alterations in corticostriatal circuits; (ii) atypical structural and functional lateralisation. We will relate different measures of the structure and function of neural networks to the various patterns of performance on verbal and nonverbal behavioural measures. These exploratory analyses will inform and extend our existing theoretical frameworks concerning the neural underpinnings of DLD. Finally, we aim to share our data to allow comparison with other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism.