Spoken Language Comprehension in Children and Adults with Angelman Syndrome

This FAST-funded study aimed to evaluate a highly sensitive and objective method to measure receptive language in individuals living with Angelman syndrome, a vital need for clinical trials. When individuals have limited expressive verbal language due to a combination of challenges (gross motor, fine motor, dyspraxia, etc.), their standardized scores on receptive language tests are negatively impacted. This study evaluated a way to try and circumvent that to better assess receptive language without needing expressive language or advanced motor skills. The conclusion was that eye tracking during listening demonstrated increased receptive language skills through an increased probability of looks to the target images after they were named in a spoken sentence. However, processing speeds (gaze reaction time) were significantly slower in AS than in a typically developing group. Overall, this method of eye-gaze testing may offer an informative and complementary approach to evaluating receptive language skills in AS, especially in participants who are unable to complete traditional standardized assessments of receptive language. In addition, individuals with AS may have less efficient speech processing and/or specific visual attention disengagement difficulties, which are likely separate from nonverbal cognitive function.

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