Masked Speech Recognition and Reading Ability in School-Age Children: Is There a Relationship? Purpose The relationship between reading (decoding) skills, phonological processing abilities, and masked speech recognition in typically developing children was explored. This experiment was designed to evaluate the relationship between phonological processing and decoding abilities and 2 aspects of masked speech recognition in typically developing children: (a) the ability to benefit ... Research Article
Research Article  |   March 15, 2018
Masked Speech Recognition and Reading Ability in School-Age Children: Is There a Relationship?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Gabrielle Miller
    Department of Psychological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
  • Barbara Lewis
    Department of Psychological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
  • Penelope Benchek
    Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
  • Emily Buss
    Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill
  • Lauren Calandruccio
    Department of Psychological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Lauren Calandruccio: lauren.calandruccio@case.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Frederick (Erick) Gallun
    Editor-in-Chief: Frederick (Erick) Gallun×
  • Editor: Daniel Fogerty
    Editor: Daniel Fogerty×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   March 15, 2018
Masked Speech Recognition and Reading Ability in School-Age Children: Is There a Relationship?
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 2018, Vol. 61, 776-788. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-H-17-0279
History: Received July 21, 2017 , Revised October 24, 2017 , Accepted November 1, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 2018, Vol. 61, 776-788. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-H-17-0279
History: Received July 21, 2017; Revised October 24, 2017; Accepted November 1, 2017

Purpose The relationship between reading (decoding) skills, phonological processing abilities, and masked speech recognition in typically developing children was explored. This experiment was designed to evaluate the relationship between phonological processing and decoding abilities and 2 aspects of masked speech recognition in typically developing children: (a) the ability to benefit from temporal and spectral modulations within a noise masker and (b) the masking exerted by a speech masker.

Method Forty-two typically developing 3rd- and 4th-grade children with normal hearing, ranging in age from 8;10 to 10;6 years (mean age = 9;2 years, SD = 0.5 months), completed sentence recognition testing in 4 different maskers: steady-state noise, temporally modulated noise, spectrally modulated noise, and two-talker speech. Children also underwent assessment of phonological processing abilities and assessments of single-word decoding. As a comparison group, 15 adults with normal hearing also completed speech-in-noise testing.

Results Speech recognition thresholds varied between approximately 3 and 7 dB across children, depending on the masker condition. Compared to adults, performance in the 2-talker masker was relatively consistent across children. Furthermore, decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio had a more precipitously deleterious effect on children's speech recognition in the 2-talker masker than was observed for adults. For children, individual differences in speech recognition threshold were not predicted by phonological awareness or decoding ability in any masker condition.

Conclusions No relationship was found between phonological awareness and/or decoding ability and a child's ability to benefit from spectral or temporal modulations. In addition, phonological awareness and/or decoding ability was not related to speech recognition in a 2-talker masker. Last, these data suggest that the between-listeners variability often observed in 2-talker maskers for adults may be smaller for children. The reasons for this child–adult difference need to be further explored.

Supplemental Material https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.5913547

Acknowledgments
Funding was provided by the ACES + ADVANCED Opportunity Grant from the Office of the Deputy Provost at Case Western Reserve University awarded to Lauren Calandruccio. This project was completed in partial fulfillment of Gabrielle Miller's PhD degree program. This project could not have been completed without the amazing efforts of the undergraduate and graduate research assistants in our lab. We also thank the wonderful children and parents who participated in the study as well as the principal and staff of the participating elementary school whose support was invaluable.
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