Portable Intermodal Preferential Looking (IPL): Investigating Language Comprehension in Typically Developing Toddlers and Young Children with Autism

Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut.
Journal of Visualized Experiments (Impact Factor: 1.33). 12/2012; 70(70). DOI: 10.3791/4331
Source: PubMed


One of the defining characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is difficulty with language and communication.1 Children with ASD's onset of speaking is usually delayed, and many children with ASD consistently produce language less frequently and of lower lexical and grammatical complexity than their typically developing (TD) peers.6,8,12,23 However, children with ASD also exhibit a significant social deficit, and researchers and clinicians continue to debate the extent to which the deficits in social interaction account for or contribute to the deficits in language production.5,14,19,25
Standardized assessments of language in children with ASD usually do include a comprehension component; however, many such comprehension tasks assess just one aspect of language (e.g., vocabulary),5 or include a significant motor component (e.g., pointing, act-out), and/or require children to deliberately choose between a number of alternatives. These last two behaviors are known to also be challenging to children with ASD.7,12,13,16
We present a method which can assess the language comprehension of young typically developing children (9-36 months) and children with autism.2,4,9,11,22 This method, Portable Intermodal Preferential Looking (P-IPL), projects side-by-side video images from a laptop onto a portable screen. The video images are paired first with a 'baseline' (nondirecting) audio, and then presented again paired with a 'test' linguistic audio that matches only one of the video images. Children's eye movements while watching the video are filmed and later coded. Children who understand the linguistic audio will look more quickly to, and longer at, the video that matches the linguistic audio.2,4,11,18,22,26
This paradigm includes a number of components that have recently been miniaturized (projector, camcorder, digitizer) to enable portability and easy setup in children's homes. This is a crucial point for assessing young children with ASD, who are frequently uncomfortable in new (e.g., laboratory) settings. Videos can be created to assess a wide range of specific components of linguistic knowledge, such as Subject-Verb-Object word order, wh-questions, and tense/aspect suffixes on verbs; videos can also assess principles of word learning such as a noun bias, a shape bias, and syntactic bootstrapping.10,14,17,21,24 Videos include characters and speech that are visually and acoustically salient and well tolerated by children with ASD.

Download full-text


Available from: Letitia R Naigles, Feb 04, 2014
  • Source
    • "A digital camera , focused on the child ' s face , was placed centrally below the screen aligned with the child and adjusted for indi - vidual height and choice of seating arrangement . The speaker projecting the auditory stimuli was located behind the projection screen and also aligned centrally with the digital camera and child ( Naigles and Tovar , 2012 ) . "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Young typically developing (TD) children have been observed to utilize word learning strategies such as the noun bias and shape bias; these improve their efficiency in acquiring and categorizing novel terms. Children using the shape bias extend object labels to new objects of the same shape; thus, the shape bias prompts the categorization of object words based on the global characteristic of shape over local, discrete details. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) frequently attend to minor details of objects rather than their global structure. Therefore, children with ASD may not use shape bias to acquire new words. Previous research with children with ASD has provided evidence that they parallel TD children in showing a noun bias, but not a shape bias (Tek et al., 2008). However, this sample was small and individual and item differences were not investigated in depth. In an extension of Tek et al. (2008) with twice the sample size and a wider developmental timespan, we tested 32 children with ASD and 35 TD children in a longitudinal study across 20 months using the intermodal preferential looking paradigm. Children saw five triads of novel objects (target, shape-match, color-match) in both NoName and Name trials; those who looked longer at the shape-match during the Name trials than the NoName trials demonstrated a shape bias. The TD group showed a significant shape bias at all visits, beginning at 20 months of age while the language-matched ASD group did not show a significant shape bias at any visit. Within the ASD group, though, some children did show a shape bias; these children had larger vocabularies concurrently and longitudinally. Degree of shape bias elicitation varied by item, but did not seem related to perceptual complexity. We conclude that shape does not appear to be an organizing factor for word learning by children with ASD.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Frontiers in Psychology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mandarin wh-words shenme ‘what’ and shei ‘who’ can convey both question readings and statement readings, a distinction of which is subject to intonation cues (rising intonation vs. level intonation) in ambiguous sentences, or is influenced by semantic contexts in unambiguous sentences. In this study, we investigated the interpretation of wh-words in 4–15-year-old Mandarin-speaking high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), as a comparison to typically developing (TD) children. The results showed that older children with ASD demonstrated unimpaired knowledge of the access to both readings, either by using intonation cues in ambiguous sentences or via semantic contexts in unambiguous sentences. However, compared to TD controls and older children with ASD, younger children with ASD appeared to have more difficulties with accessing the statement readings of these wh-words, though they had no problems with the question readings. To sum up, the experimental findings demonstrated children with ASD's relative strengths in understanding these linguistic properties specific to the interpretation of the Mandarin wh-words, though a complete capture of this knowledge is subject to a developmental effect. We discussed the results from the perspective the contribution the language faculty makes to language acquisition in children with ASD.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The comprehension of tense/aspect morphology by children with ASD was assessed via Intermodal Preferential Looking (IPL) to determine whether this population's difficulties with producing these morphemes extended to their comprehension. Four-year-old participants were assessed twice, four months apart. They viewed a video which presented side-by-side ongoing and completed events paired with familiar verbs with past tense and progressive morphology. Their eye movements were recorded and coded offline; the IPL measures included percentage of looking time at, and latency of first look to, the matching scene. Spontaneous speech samples were also obtained, and coded for number of words, past tense, and progressive inflections. Relative to their baseline preferences, these four-year-old children with ASD looked more quickly to and longer at the matching scene for both morphemes. Children who produced more words, progressive, and past morphemes, as well as who performed better on standardized language assessments, demonstrated better comprehension of -ing. Overall these children with ASD demonstrated consistent comprehension of grammatical aspect morphology; moreover, their degree of comprehension was found to correlate with spontaneous production and standardized test scores.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research
Show more