Brain activity and language assessment using event-related potentials: development of a clinical protocol Journal Articles uri icon

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  • To test the validity of a new computerized task to assess children's receptive vocabulary, event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded from 56 typically developing children ranging in age from 5 to 12 years. This ERP-computerized vocabulary task does not require a child to give a verbal or motor (i.e. pointing) response. Single pictures, from an existing standardized test of receptive vocabulary, were presented on a computer screen and simultaneously named either correctly (congruent) or incorrectly (incongruent) via a computer. As predicted, the N400 amplitude was found to be significantly higher to the incongruent picture-word pair (i.e. the child knew it was an incorrect pairing) than to the congruent picture-word pair (i.e. the child knew it was a correct pairing). This effect was found for each of the four age groups (5 to 6 years, 7 to 8 years, 9 to 10 years, 11 to 12 years). This task accurately estimated current receptive vocabulary in typically developing children. Although still in the development stage, it may eventually serve as an adjunct to a thorough neurological and neurodevelopmental assessment of some children presenting with moderate to severe cerebral palsy.


  • Byrne, Joseph M
  • Connolly, John
  • MacLean, Shannon E
  • Dooley, Joseph M
  • Gordon, Kevin E
  • Beattie, Tricia L

publication date

  • November 1999