Quick Incidental Learning of Words by Children with and without Specific Language Impairment: An Eye-tracking Study

Haeun Chung, Dongsun Yim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study's goal is to use eye-tracking technology to learn more about children's online novel word-learning processing abilities in a quick incidental learning (QUIL) task to examine how children with and without Specific Language Impairment (SLI) exhibit different patterns when learning new words and how these differences in looking behaviors lead to different learning results. Methods: Twenty typically developing (TD) children (age: M=5.15 years) and 10 children with SLI (age: M=5.11 years) participated in the study. Children completed a QUIL task while their eye movements were recorded using an eye-tracking device. The fixation count number and the average fixation time on target word AOIs (Areas of Interest) were analyzed and heat map analysis was also conducted. Results: The analysis of eye-tracking measures revealed different patterns between groups. The TD group's fixation duration on AOIs gradually increased from first to last exposure, whereas the SLI group showed decreased fixation duration over time. Heat map analysis showed that the SLI group fixated less on target AOIs and their gazes were widely scattered compared to the gazes of the TD group. A positive correlation was observed between the fixation time and learning. Conclusion: For TD, words and their referents were correctly inferred and the association between words and referents was strengthened over time. Children with SLI had difficulty associating novel labels with novel objects, as indexed by less time spent looking at AOIs. This study provides insights into the QUIL of words by children with and without SLI in a natural context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-516
Number of pages18
JournalCommunication Sciences and Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

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© 2020


  • Eye-tracking
  • Quick incidental learning
  • Specific language impairment


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