Response to Tallal We interpret Tallal’s comments in the preceding letter (1990) as emphasizing three points: (1) The discriminant analyses conducted by Tallal, Stark and Mellits (1985)  were better than our analyses (Elliott, Hammer, and Scholl, 1989) at predicting language-impairment (e.g., “Taken together, our variables were able to account for over 96% of ... Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor  |   September 01, 1990
Response to Tallal
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lois L. Elliott
    Northwestern University
  • Michael A. Hammer
    Northwestern University
  • Margo E. Scholl
    Northwestern University
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Language Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Letters to the Editor
Letter to the Editor   |   September 01, 1990
Response to Tallal
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, September 1990, Vol. 33, 617-618. doi:10.1044/jshr.3303.617
History: Received January 5, 1990 , Accepted January 19, 1990
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, September 1990, Vol. 33, 617-618. doi:10.1044/jshr.3303.617
History: Received January 5, 1990; Accepted January 19, 1990
We interpret Tallal’s comments in the preceding letter (1990) as emphasizing three points: (1) The discriminant analyses conducted by Tallal, Stark and Mellits (1985)  were better than our analyses (Elliott, Hammer, and Scholl, 1989) at predicting language-impairment (e.g., “Taken together, our variables were able to account for over 96% of the variance.”); (2) “temporal processing impairments” are not specific to the auditory modality; and (3) “The deficit in rapid temporal analysis … is not specific to linguistic information per se.” We shall discuss each of these points, but not in this order.
We perceive several major differences between our finegrained auditory discrimination task and the type of temporal processing task typically employed by Tallal and her co-workers. Our task falls in the tradition of auditory psychophysics and the Just-Noticeable-Difference (JND) or difference limen (DL) (e.g., Hirsh, 1952). It measures discrimination of acoustic, not phonetic or phonemic, differences. Our task uses an adaptive procedure to identify the stimulus that can be just discriminated as “different” from an anchor stimulus. It does not require a subject to indicate the temporal order of sequentially-presented stimuli; this latter type of task was apparently first used by Hirsh (1959)  in the auditory domain and Withrow (1963)  in the visual modality, and is the type of task employed in many of Tallal’s procedures. We hypothesize that performance on our task depends, at least in part, on the peripheral auditory system because other investigators have demonstrated that listeners having sensory hearing loss often perform more poorly than normally-hearing listeners on procedures that pertain to temporal gap detection (e.g., Fitzgibbons & Gordon-Salant, 1987) and frequency selectivity (e.g., Moore & Glasberg, 1986)—psychoacoustic dimensions that are both related to our tasks.
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