Synthetic Speech Comprehension A Comparison of Children With Normal and Impaired Language Skills Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 1998
Synthetic Speech Comprehension
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Mary E. Reynolds
    Marshall University Huntington, WV
  • Donald Fucci
    Ohio University Athens
  • Contact author: Mary E. Reynolds, Department of Communication Disorders, Marshall University, 400 Hal Greer Boulevard, Huntington, WV 25755-2675. Email:
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 1998
Synthetic Speech Comprehension
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1998, Vol. 41, 458-466. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4102.458
History: Received September 12, 1996 , Accepted September 5, 1997
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1998, Vol. 41, 458-466. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4102.458
History: Received September 12, 1996; Accepted September 5, 1997
Web of Science® Times Cited: 18

This study compared the ability of children with normal language (NL) and children with specific language impairment (SLI) to comprehend natural speech and DECtalk synthetic speech by using a sentence verification task. The effect of listening practice on subjects' ability to comprehend both types of speech also was investigated. Subjects were matched for age and sex. Mean nonverbal intelligence scores of the groups did not differ significantly. Results showed that DECtalk was significantly more difficult for all subjects to comprehend than was natural speech and false sentences were significantly more difficult to comprehend than were true sentences. Response latencies shortened significantly from time 1 to time 2 for all subjects. Subjects with SLI had significantly more difficulty comprehending both natural and synthetic speech than did subjects with NL. Implications these results might have for theories of the underlying cause of specific language impairment are discussed.

The study reported in this article was part of a doctoral dissertation completed by the first author under the direction of the second. Thanks are due to Larry Wallace and Julie White of Ohio University for their invaluable help with equipment and to Marshall University graduate student Lisa Jefferson for her assistance with scoring. The authors gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the staff, parents, and students of the Russell Independent School District in Russell, KY, and the Cabell County School District in Huntington, WV, without whose help this project would not have been possible. The help of Russell Superintendent Ron Back, principals John Jones and Barbara Harris, speech-language pathologists Nancy Wilson and Peggy Blount, and Cabell County Speech-Language Pathology Supervisor Sandra Sargent and speech-language pathologists Cindy Jones, Jean Doyle, Betty Sullivan, Rachel Beahrs, and Michaela Chiles in recruiting subjects is also gratefully acknowledged. Finally, thanks are due to Ohio University faculty members Richard Dean, Zinny Bond, Norman Garber, and Edwin Leach for their helpful suggestions during initial data collection.
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