The Development of Language-Specific and Language-Independent Talker Processing PurposeIn this study, the authors aimed to investigate how differences in language ability relate to differences in processing talker information in the native language and an unfamiliar language by comparing performance for different ages and for groups with impaired language.MethodThree groups of native English listeners with typical language development (TLD; ... Research Note
Research Note  |   June 01, 2013
The Development of Language-Specific and Language-Independent Talker Processing
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Susannah V. Levi
    New York University
  • Richard G. Schwartz
    The Graduate Center of The City University of New York
  • Correspondence to Susannah V. Levi: svlevi@nyu.edu
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Megha Sundara
    Associate Editor: Megha Sundara×
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Research Note   |   June 01, 2013
The Development of Language-Specific and Language-Independent Talker Processing
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2013, Vol. 56, 913-925. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0095)
History: Revised August 16, 2012 , Received October 25, 2012 , Accepted October 31, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2013, Vol. 56, 913-925. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0095)
History: Revised August 16, 2012; Received October 25, 2012; Accepted October 31, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 4

PurposeIn this study, the authors aimed to investigate how differences in language ability relate to differences in processing talker information in the native language and an unfamiliar language by comparing performance for different ages and for groups with impaired language.

MethodThree groups of native English listeners with typical language development (TLD; ages 7–9, ages 10–12, adults) and 2 groups with specific language impairment (SLI; ages 7–9, ages 10–12) participated in the study. Listeners heard pairs of words in both English and German (unfamiliar language) and were asked to determine whether the words were produced by the same or different talkers.

ResultsIn English, talker discrimination improved with age. In German, performance improved with age for the school-age children but was worse for adult listeners. No differences were found between TLD and SLI children.

ConclusionThese results show that as listeners' language skills develop, there is a trade-off between more general perceptual abilities useful for processing talker information in any language and those that are relevant to their everyday language experiences and, thus, tied to the phonology. The lack of differences between the children with and without language impairments suggests that general auditory processing may be intact in at least some children with SLI.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants 1R03DC009851-01A2 (awarded to the first author) and 1R01DC011041 (awarded to the second author). We thank Josh Barocas, Jennifer Bruno, Emma Mack, Alexandra Muratore, Sydney Robert, and Margo Waltz for help with data collection and analysis; Adam Buchwald for his extremely helpful comments; and the children and families for their participation.
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