Poster F59, Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Biomarkers of Children’s Standardized Academic Achievement Using Neuroelectric Measures of Language Processing
Mark Scudder1, Kara Federmeier2, Eric Drollette2, Lauren Raine3, Shih-Chun Kao2, Naiman Khan2, Arthur Kramer3, Charles Hillman3; 1University of Pittsburgh, 2University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 3Northeastern University, Boston, MA
The goal of the current study was to determine whether event-related brain potentials (ERPs) may serve as novel biomarkers of children’s standardized scholastic achievement, and predict greater learning over the academic year. Elementary-aged children (8-9 years, n=119) were followed over one school year and completed a standardized academic battery at baseline and post-test. The N400 ERP component, representing the extraction of semantic/meaning information from long-term memory, was recorded using a visually-presented reading comprehension task. Children were asked if sentences contained a “mistake” (50% probability), which occurred when the meaning of a critical/target word did not fit the context of the sentence (semantic violation), or a word resulted in a grammatical error (word-order or syntactic violation). Hierarchical regression analyses at baseline revealed that larger N400 amplitudes for both types of violations were independently related to superior academic performance (R2 = .039 - .079), particularly for language-based tests (i.e., reading, fluency, and listening), which remained significant when adjusting for important demographics. After controlling for the variance in baseline academic performance, larger N400 amplitude at baseline also predicted greater improvements in reading composite and decoding fluency scores one year later (R2 = .036 - .056), yet this relationship was observed for semantic violations only. Accordingly, the current results suggest that a specific ERP component can provide a valuable biomarker of children’s scholastic achievement, as well as predict greater improvements in performance. Such findings may have important implications for children’s learning by helping identify children at risk for poorer academic performance in school.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Development & aging