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October 2021

Speech-sound discrimination in school-age children: Psychophysical and neurophysiologic measures

Author(s): Koch, D. B., McGee, T. J., Nicol, T. G., Cunningham, J.

Journal/Book: J Speech Lang Hear Res. 1999; 42: 10801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852-3279, USA. Amer Speech-Language-Hearing Assoc. 1042-1060.

Abstract: This study measured behavioral speech-sound discrimination and a neurophysiologic correlate of discrimination in normal school-age children (ages 6 to 15) to determine if developmental effects exist. Just noticeable differences (JNDs) and mismatch responses (MMN5) were assessed for synthetic syllables that differed in third-formant onset frequency (/da-ga/) and formant transition duration (/ba-wa/). These stimuli were selected because children with learning problems often find it difficult to discriminate rapid spectrotemporal changes like /da-ga/, whereas the ability to distinguish /ba-wa/ is relatively unimpaired. Results indicate that JNDs for /da-ga/ show no developmental effects and that JNDs for /ba-wa/ decrease slightly with age (although likely for task-related reasons). MMNs elicited by two Ida-gal stimulus pairs (onset frequency differences = 20 Hz, 280 Hz) and three /ba-wa/ stimulus pairs (transition duration differences = 3, 5, 15 ms) showed no systematic or significant differences for onset latency, duration, or area as a function of age. Normative JND and MMN data are provided. These norms provide a metric against which children with suspected central auditory processing difficulties or auditory-based language disorders can be compared.

Note: Review Kraus N, Northwestern Univ, 2299 N Campus Dr, Evanston,IL 60208 USA

Keyword(s): auditory development; learning disabilities; speech-sound perception; central auditory physiology; mismatch negativity; AUDITORY-SYSTEM PLASTICITY; INTERMODAL SELECTIVE ATTENTION; LEARNING IMPAIRED CHILDREN; CONSONANT-VOWEL SYLLABLES; MISMATCH NEGATIVITY; STOP CONSONANTS; DEVELOPMENTAL-CHANGES; PHONEME REPRESENTATIONS; READING DISABILITIES; FORMANT TRANSITIONS


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