Audiovisual integration in children listening to spectrally degraded speech

© 2015 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Purpose: The study explored whether visual information improves speech identification in typically developing children with normal hearing when the auditory signal is spectrally degraded. Method: Children (n = 69) and adults (n = 15) were presented with noise-vocoded sentences from the Children’s Co-ordinate Response Measure (Rosen, 2011) in auditoryonly or audiovisual conditions. The number of bands was adaptively varied to modulate the degradation of the auditory signal, with the number of bands required for approximately 79% correct identification calculated as the threshold. Results: The youngest children (4- to 5-year-olds) did not benefit from accompanying visual information, in comparison to 6- to 11-year-old children and adults. Audiovisual gain also increased with age in the child sample. Conclusions: The current data suggest that children younger than 6 years of age do not fully utilize visual speech cues to enhance speech perception when the auditory signal is degraded. This evidence not only has implications for understanding the development of speech perception skills in children with normal hearing but may also inform the development of new treatment and intervention strategies that aim to remediate speech perception difficulties in pediatric cochlear implant users.