Noise Hampers Children’s Expressive Word Learning Purpose To determine the effects of noise and speech style on word learning in typically developing school-age children. Method Thirty-one participants ages 9;0 (years;months) to 10;11 attempted to learn 2 sets of 8 novel words and their referents. They heard all of the words 13 times each within ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 01, 2012
Noise Hampers Children’s Expressive Word Learning
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kristine Grohne Riley
    Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Karla K. McGregor
    The University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Correspondence to Karla K. McGregor: karla-mcgregor@uiowa.edu
  • Editor: Marilyn Nippold
    Editor: Marilyn Nippold×
  • Associate Editor: Gary Troia
    Associate Editor: Gary Troia×
Article Information
Development / Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 01, 2012
Noise Hampers Children’s Expressive Word Learning
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2012, Vol. 43, 325-337. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2012/11-0053)
History: Received July 13, 2011 , Accepted January 28, 2012
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2012, Vol. 43, 325-337. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2012/11-0053)
History: Received July 13, 2011; Accepted January 28, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 12

Purpose To determine the effects of noise and speech style on word learning in typically developing school-age children.

Method Thirty-one participants ages 9;0 (years;months) to 10;11 attempted to learn 2 sets of 8 novel words and their referents. They heard all of the words 13 times each within meaningful narrative discourse. Signal-to-noise ratio (noise vs. quiet) and speech style (plain vs. clear) were manipulated such that half of the children heard the new words in broadband white noise and half heard them in quiet; within those conditions, each child heard one set of words produced in a plain speech style and another set in a clear speech style.

Results Children who were trained in quiet learned to produce the word forms more accurately than those who were trained in noise. Clear speech resulted in more accurate word form productions than plain speech, whether the children had learned in noise or quiet. Learning from clear speech in noise and plain speech in quiet produced comparable results.

Conclusion Noise limits expressive vocabulary growth in children, reducing the quality of word form representation in the lexicon. Clear speech input can aid expressive vocabulary growth in children, even in noisy environments.

Acknowledgments
We thank Ann Bradlow for guidance and resources in support of stimulus development. Ann Bradlow and Jessica Maye provided helpful input during all stages of this project. The second author gratefully acknowledges the support of NIH-NIDCD 2 R01 DC003698. This paper is based on data that were included in a doctoral thesis authored by Kristine Grohne Riley at Northwestern University.
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