Previous work has found that preschoolers with greater phonological awareness and larger lexicons, who speak more throughout the day, exhibit less intra-syllabic coarticulation in controlled speech production tasks. These findings suggest that both linguistic experience and speech-motor control are important predictors of spoken phonetic development. Still, it remains unclear how preschoolers' speech practice when they talk drives the development of coarticulation because children who talk more are likely to have both increased fine motor control and increased auditory feedback experience. Here, the potential effect of auditory feedback is studied by examining a population—children with cochlear implants (CIs)—which is naturally differing in auditory experience. The results show that (1) developmentally appropriate coarticulation improves with an increased hearing age but not chronological age; (2) children with CIs pattern coarticulatorily closer to their younger, hearing age-matched peers than chronological age-matched peers; and (3) the effects of speech practice on coarticulation, measured using naturalistic, at-home recordings of the children's speech production, only appear in the children with CIs after several years of hearing experience. Together, these results indicate a strong role of auditory feedback experience on coarticulation and suggest that parent-child communicative exchanges could stimulate children's own vocal output, which drives speech development.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the children and their families for participating in this research. Additional thanks to the Learning to Talk Labs at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and Michele Liquori for help processing the data. This work was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant Nos. T32DC000046, F32DC019539, (M.C.) and R01DC02932 (J.R.E., B.M., and Mary E. Beckman).
© 2021 Acoustical Society of America.
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural