Quantifying the effects of background speech babble on preschool children’s novel word learning in a multisession paradigm: A preliminary study

Meital Avivi-Reich*, Megan Y. Roberts, Tina M. Grieco-Calub

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This study tested the effects of background speech babble on novel word learning in preschool children with a multisession paradigm. Method: Eight 3-year-old children were exposed to a total of 8 novel word–object pairs across 2 story books presented digitally. Each story contained 4 novel consonant–vowel– consonant nonwords. Children were exposed to both stories, one in quiet and one in the presence of 4-talker babble presented at 0-dB signal-to-noise ratio. After each story, children’s learning was tested with a referent selection task and a verbal recall (naming) task. Children were exposed to and tested on the novel word–object pairs on 5 separate days within a 2-week span. Results: A significant main effect of session was found for both referent selection and verbal recall. There was also a significant main effect of exposure condition on referent selection performance, with more referents correctly selected for word–object pairs that were presented in quiet compared to pairs presented in speech babble. Finally, children’s verbal recall of novel words was statistically better than baseline performance (i.e., 0%) on Sessions 3–5 for words exposed in quiet, but only on Session 5 for words exposed in speech babble. Conclusions: These findings suggest that background speech babble at 0-dB signal-to-noise ratio disrupts novel word learning in preschool-age children. As a result, children may need more time and more exposures of a novel word before they can recognize or verbally recall it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-356
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume63
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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