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ERIC Number: EJ814827
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Sep
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 42
ISSN: ISSN-1525-0008
Speech Perception by 6- to 8-Month-Olds in the Presence of Distracting Sounds
Polka, Linda; Rvachew, Susan; Molnar, Monika
Infancy, v13 n5 p421-439 Sep 2008
The role of selective attention in infant phonetic perception was examined using a distraction masker paradigm. We compared perception of /bu/ versus /gu/ in 6- to 8-month-olds using a visual fixation procedure. Infants were habituated to multiple natural productions of 1 syllable type and then presented 4 test trials (old-new-old-new). Perception of the new syllable (indexed as novelty preference) was compared across 3 groups: habituated and tested on syllables in quiet (Group 1), habituated and tested on syllables mixed with a nonspeech signal (Group 2), and habituated with syllables mixed with a non-speech signal and tested on syllables in quiet (Group 3). In Groups 2 and 3, each syllable was mixed with a segment spliced from a recording of bird and cricket songs. This nonspeech signal has no overlapping frequencies with the syllable; it is not expected to alter the sensory structure or perceptual coherence of the syllable. Perception was negatively affected by the presence of the auditory distracter during habituation; individual performance levels also varied more in these groups. The findings show that perceiving speech in the presence of irrelevant sounds poses a cognitive challenge for young infants. We conclude that selective attention is an important skill that supports speech perception in infants; the significance of this skill for language learning during infancy deserves investigation. (Contains 1 table, 3 figures and 5 footnotes.)
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada (Montreal)