Attentional Modulation of Word Recognition by Children in a Dual-Task Paradigm

Sangsook Choi; Lotto, Andrew; Lewis, Dawna; Hoover, Brenda; Stelmachowicz, Patricia
August 2008
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Aug2008, Vol. 51 Issue 4, p1042
Academic Journal
Purpose: This study investigated an account of limited short-term memory capacity for children's speech perception in noise using a dual-task paradigm. Method: Sixty-four normal-hearing children (7-14 years of age) participated in this study. Dual tasks were repeating monosyllabic words presented in noise at 8 dB signal-to-noise ratio and rehearsing sets of 3 or 5 digits for subsequent serial recall. Half of the children were told to allocate their primary attention to word repetition and the other half to remembering digits. Dual-task performance was compared to single-task performance. Limitations in short-term memory demands required for the primary task were measured by dual-task decrements in nonprimary tasks. Results: Results revealed that (a) regardless of task priority, no dual-task decrements were found for word recognition, but significant dual-task decrements were found for digit recall; (b) most children did not show the ability to allocate attention preferentially to primary tasks; and (c) younger children (7- to 10-year-olds) demonstrated improved word recognition in the dual-task conditions relative to their single-task performance. Conclusions: Seven- to 8-year-old children showed the greatest improvement in word recognition at the expense of the greatest decrement in digit recall during dual tasks. Several possibilities for improved word recognition in the dual-task conditions are discussed.


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