*CDL Seminars HT 2023* Brain organisation in language development and disorder

Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) struggle to learn their native language. These language difficulties occur in approximately 7% of children, and can substantially limit academic and social achievement. Given the high prevalence and social and economic impact, it is somewhat surprising that we do not understand more about the neural basis of DLD. To this end, I will discuss some recent findings from the Oxford Brain Organisation in Language Development (BOLD) study. In the BOLD study, we used a series of functional and structural tasks to probe changes in brain organisation relating to atypical language. We have scanned 175 children, half of whom presented with a history of speech and language difficulties. In this talk, I will focus on children’s functional neural organisation for verb generation (the focus of our recent registered report). I will then discuss some new findings based on a new quantitative imaging protocol (multiparameter mapping). I will interpret our data with reference to two theories about the neural basis of DLD. The first theory suggests that children with DLD are atypically lateralised for language. The second idea, proposed by us and others, suggests that frontostriatal systems are abnormal or dysfunctional in DLD. Finally, I will discuss some new work in my lab, which focuses on the role of intrinsic reward and motivation in language learning, and potential disturbance of this mechanism in language disorders.