Auditory-motor learning during speech production in 9- 11-year-old children

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Background:Hearing ability is essential for normal speech development, however the precise mechanisms linking auditory input and the improvement of speaking ability remain poorly understood. Auditory feedback during speech production is believed to play a critical role by providing the nervous system with information about speech outcomes that is used to learn and subsequently fine-tune speech motor output. Surprisingly, few studies have directly investigated such auditorymotor learning in the speech production of typically developing children. Methodology/Principal Findings:In the present study, we manipulated auditory feedback during speech production in a group of 9-11-year old children, as well as in adults. Following a period of speech practice under conditions of altered auditory feedback, compensatory changes in speech production and perception were examined. Consistent with prior studies, the adults exhibited compensatory changes in both their speech motor output and their perceptual representations of speech sound categories. The children exhibited compensatory changes in the motor domain, with a change in speech output that was similar in magnitude to that of the adults, however the children showed no reliable compensatory effect on their perceptual representations. Conclusions:The results indicate that 9-11-year-old children, whose speech motor and perceptual abilities are still not fully developed, are nonetheless capable of auditory-feedback-based sensorimotor adaptation, supporting a role for such learning processes in speech motor development. Auditory feedback may play a more limited role, however, in the finetuning of children's perceptual representations of speech sound categories. © 2010 Shiller et al.




Shiller, D. M., Gracco, V. L., & Rvachew, S. (2010). Auditory-motor learning during speech production in 9- 11-year-old children. PLoS ONE, 5(9).

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