Electrophysiological Indices of Discrimination of Long-Duration, Phonetically Similar Vowels in Children With Typical and Atypical Language Development

Datta, Hia; Shafer, Valerie L.; Morr, Mara L.; Kurtzberg, Diane; Schwartz, Richard G.
June 2010
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Jun2010, Vol. 53 Issue 3, p757
Academic Journal
Purpose: The authors investigated the neurophysiological bases of vowel perception in children with specific language impairment (SLI) compared with typical language development (TLD) controls using 250-ms phonetically similar vowels. In a previous study, children with SLI showed a poor neurophysiological response (the mismatch negativity [MMN]) to 50-ms versions of these vowels, regardless of whether attention was directed to (attend) or away (passive) from the auditory modality (V. Shafer, M. Morr, H. Datta, D. Kurtzberg, & R. Schwartz, 2005). They hypothesized that longer vowels would allow for improved speech perception. Method: Brain responses were elicited to the vowel contrast in 2 conditions: (a) attend and (b) passive. Behavioral discrimination and identification responses were also examined. Results: Both SLI and TLD groups showed evidence of discrimination (MMN) of the vowels in the attend and passive conditions. Only subtle differences in the scalp topography of a late negative (LN) brain component were observed between groups. The SLI compared with the TLD group showed significantly poorer identification of these long vowels, as found previously with the shorter vowels. Conclusions: Increased vowel duration can improve discrimination in children with SLI. However, poor identification of these longer vowels by some children with SLI suggests a deficit in long-term phonological representations or accessing these representations.


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