Neurobiological Basis of Language Learning Difficulties

Saloni Krishnan, Kate E. Watkins, Dorothy V.M. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this paper we highlight why there is a need to examine subcortical learning systems in children with language impairment and dyslexia, rather than focusing solely on cortical areas relevant for language. First, behavioural studies find that children with these neurodevelopmental disorders perform less well than peers on procedural learning tasks that depend on corticostriatal learning circuits. Second, fMRI studies in neurotypical adults implicate corticostriatal and hippocampal systems in language learning. Finally, structural and functional abnormalities are seen in the striatum in children with language disorders. Studying corticostriatal networks in developmental language disorders could offer us insights into their neurobiological basis and elucidate possible modes of compensation for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-714
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number9
Early online date13 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • development
  • disorder
  • dyslexia
  • procedural learning
  • specific language impairment
  • striatum
  • subcortical

Cite this