Network Analysis of a Large Sample of Typical and Late Talkers


The focus of this paper is to examine differences in semantic network structure of late talkers and typical talkers to elucidate potential learning strategies used by late talking children. To address this question, we conducted network analysis on the vocabularies of 2,912 children, with 566 of those being late talkers. Contrary to previously reported findings, the results show that late talkers have well-connected vocabularies as measured by median degree, clustering coefficient, and mean distance, with more well-connected networks in some cases than typical talkers. Further analysis of word order suggests that late talkers may be selecting based on frequency and connectivity of the words in the learning environment, more so than typical talkers. The language processing difficulties in late talkers appear not to be associated with their semantic network properties. In sum, late talkers may initially benefit from using word frequency and word connectivity strategies to build well-connected vocabularies.

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