Preschool-age children with phonological disorders were compared to their typically developing age peers on their ability to discriminate CVC words that differed only in the identity of the final consonant in whole-word and gated conditions. The performance of three age groups of typically developing children and adults was also assessed on the same task. Children with phonological disorders performed more poorly than age-matched peers, and younger typically developing children performed more poorly than older children and adults, even when the entire CVC word was presented. Performance in the whole-word condition was correlated with receptive vocabulary size and a measure of articulatory accuracy across all children. These results suggest that there is a complex relationship among word learning skills, the ability to attend to fine phonetic detail, and the acquisition of articulatory-acoustic and acoustic-auditory representations.
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