The assessment of active language lateralization in infants and toddlers is challenging. It requires an imaging tool that is unintimidating, quick to setup, and robust to movement, in addition to an engaging and cognitively simple language processing task. Functional Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound (fTCD) offers a suitable technique and here we report on a suitable method to elicit active language production in young children. The 34-second “What Box” trial presents an animated face “searching” for an object. The face “finds” a box that opens to reveal a to-be-labelled object. In a sample of 95 children (1 to 5 years of age), 81% completed the task—32% with ≥10 trials. The task was validated (ρ = 0.4) against the gold standard Word Generation task in a group of older adults (n = 65, 60–85 years of age), though was less likely to categorize lateralization as left or right, indicative of greater measurement variability. Existing methods for active language production have been used with 2-year-old children while passive listening has been conducted with sleeping 6-month-olds. This is the first active method to be successfully employed with infants through to pre-schoolers, forming a useful tool for populations in which complex instructions are problematic.
- functional transcranial Doppler ultrasound