Studies of young children with unilateral perinatal stroke (PS) have confirmed the plasticity of the developing brain for acquiring language. While recent studies of typically developing children have demonstrated the significant development of language well into adolescence, we know little regarding the course of language development in the PS group as they mature. Will children with PS continue to show the same remarkable plasticity that they exhibited at younger ages? In the present paper we investigate later language and discourse in children with perinatal stroke (ages 7-16) using spoken personal narrative as the discourse context. In contrast to the findings of the discourse studies of younger children with PS, children with left hemisphere lesions made more morphological errors, used less complex syntax and fewer syntactic types than controls; they also produced more impoverished story settings. In contrast, those with right hemisphere lesions performed comparably to controls, except in their impoverished use of complex syntax. The findings provide insight into the nature of later spoken language development in these children, revealing both the nature and extent of neuroplasticity for language as well as potential regional biases.
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.