Effect of Perceptual Load on Semantic Access by Speech in Children Purpose To examine whether semantic access by speech requires attention in children. Method Children (N = 200) named pictures and ignored distractors on a cross-modal (distractors: auditory–no face) or multimodal (distractors: auditory–static face and audiovisual–dynamic face) picture word task. The cross-modal task had a low load, and the ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2013
Effect of Perceptual Load on Semantic Access by Speech in Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Susan Jerger
    University of Texas at Dallas
  • Markus F. Damian
    University of Bristol, United Kingdom
  • Candice Mills
    University of Texas at Dallas
  • James Bartlett
    University of Texas at Dallas
  • Nancy Tye-Murray
    Central Institute for the Deaf at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
  • Hervé Abdi
    University of Texas at Dallas
  • Correspondence to Susan Jerger: sjerger@utdallas.edu
  • Editor: Sid Bacon
    Editor: Sid Bacon×
  • Associate Editor: Steve Goldinger
    Associate Editor: Steve Goldinger×
Article Information
Development / Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Normal Language Processing / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2013
Effect of Perceptual Load on Semantic Access by Speech in Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2013, Vol. 56, 388-403. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0186)
History: Received July 17, 2011 , Revised January 27, 2012 , Accepted July 3, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2013, Vol. 56, 388-403. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0186)
History: Received July 17, 2011; Revised January 27, 2012; Accepted July 3, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 4

Purpose To examine whether semantic access by speech requires attention in children.

Method Children (N = 200) named pictures and ignored distractors on a cross-modal (distractors: auditory–no face) or multimodal (distractors: auditory–static face and audiovisual–dynamic face) picture word task. The cross-modal task had a low load, and the multimodal task had a high load (i.e., respectively naming pictures displayed on a blank screen vs. below the talker's face on his T-shirt). Semantic content of distractors was manipulated to be related vs. unrelated to the picture (e.g., picture “dog” with distractors “bear” vs. “cheese”). If irrelevant semantic content manipulation influences naming times on both tasks despite variations in loads, Lavie's (2005)  perceptual load model proposes that semantic access is independent of capacity-limited attentional resources; if, however, irrelevant content influences naming only on the cross-modal task (low load), the perceptual load model proposes that semantic access is dependent on attentional resources exhausted by the higher load task.

Results Irrelevant semantic content affected performance for both tasks in 6- to 9-year-olds but only on the cross-modal task in 4- to 5-year-olds. The addition of visual speech did not influence results on the multimodal task.

Conclusion Younger and older children differ in dependence on attentional resources for semantic access by speech.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant DC-00421, awarded to the University of Texas at Dallas. We thank Alice O'Toole for her generous advice and assistance in recording the audiovisual stimuli. Thanks also go to the children and parents who participated and to the students who assisted—namely, Derek Hammons and Scott Hawkins (for computer programming), Sarah Joyce Bessonette, Carissa Dees, K. Meaghan Dougherty, Alycia Elkins, Irma Garza, Brittany Hernandez, Kelley Leach, Michelle McNeal, Anne Pham, Lori Pressley, Anastasia Villescas, and, in particular, Karen Banzon (for data collection, analysis, and/or presentation).
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