An On-Line Imitative Test of Speech-Pattern Contrast Perception (OlimSpac): Developmental Effects in Normally Hearing Children

Boothroyd, Arthur; Eisenberg, Laurie S.; Martinez, Amy S.
June 2010
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Jun2010, Vol. 53 Issue 3, p531
Academic Journal
Purpose: The goal was to assess the effects of maturation and phonological development on performance, by normally hearing children, on an imitative test of auditory capacity (On-Line Imitative Test of Speech-Pattern Contrast Perception [OlimSpac]; Boothroyd, Eisenberg, & Martinez, 2006; Eisenberg, Martinez, & Boothroyd, 2003, 2007). Method: Thirty-four hearing children (aged between 1;8 [years;months] and 6;7) were asked to imitate nonword utterances. Responses were evaluated by a blinded listener in an 8-alternative forced-choice task, giving information on the children's ability to convey, by imitation, information about 6 binary phonemic contrasts. Results: Four children declined participation. Among 30 children aged 2;7 or older, performance improved significantly with age and varied with contrast. All children 3 years of age or older attained passing scores (7 or 8 correct responses in 8 binary trials) on at least 5 of the 6 contrasts. Post-alveolar consonant place was the contrast most often failed. Conclusions: When evaluated on a pass/fail basis, normally hearing children 3 years of age or older are likely to demonstrate auditory perception of most phonemic contrasts using this imitative test. Phonological development and other task-related factors have only a modest effect on performance by normally hearing children after 3 years of age. The effects of hearing loss, hearing age, sensory assistance, and listening experience in children with hearing loss remain to be determined.


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