Lexical Phonological Networks in Children with Down Syndrome: An Initial Syllable Similarity Priming Task with an Eye-Tracking Method


  • Jessica Ramos-Sanchez Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Natalia Arias-Trejo Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México




Phonological Priming, Down Syndrome, Language Disabilities, Word Recognition, Language Acquisition, Lexical Networks


Typically-developing (TD) infants as young as 24 months of age use phonological information to establish links between the words of their early lexicons (Mani & Plunkett, 2010; 2011), which facilitates word recognition and learning. However, Down syndrome (DS) children are reported to have difficulties in learning phonological representations (Jarrold & Thorn & Stephens, 2009). The present study aimed to evaluate if DS children establish lexical networks based on phonological similarity by exploring the effects of lexical competition in a phonological priming task. We evaluated 24 children with DS (mental verbal age; M= 40 months) and 24 children with TD (mental verbal age; M= 40 months), matched by receptive vocabulary size, with a phonological priming adaptation of the intermodal preferential looking task. Children with DS showed inhibition of target recognition in related trials compared to unrelated trials. Children with TD showed an absence of priming effects. Further analysis revealed a relationship between the prime cohort size and the level of inhibition of target recognition for both groups. Our results suggest children with DS possess sufficiently detailed phonological representations that allow them to efficiently cluster their lexical entries based on phonological similarities. Moreover, results are thought to reflect differences in the lexical competition processes between the TD and DS groups.

Author Biographies

  • Jessica Ramos-Sanchez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
    Psycholinguistics Lab, UNAM
  • Natalia Arias-Trejo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

    Psycholinguistics Lab Director

    Faculty of Psychology, UNAM