Fifteen children diagnosed with specific language impairment (SLI) and 15 typically developing (TD) children were tested for identification performance on 2 synthetic speech continua varying in formant transition durations (FTDs). One continuum varied from /ba/ to /wa/, and the other varied from /da/ to /ja/. Various d'-related measures from signal detection theory were used to compare category boundaries and indirectly derive sensitivity to phonetic changes in category tokens along each continuum. The SLI group showed less consistent identification performance along the /ba/-/wa/ series relative to the TD group, as well as reduced sensitivity to phonetic changes along the continuum. On the /da/-/ja/ series, the SLI group revealed less consistent identification performance on the short FTD end but similar identification levels to the TD group at the long FTD end. The overall results support the contention that children with SLI reveal a deficiency in the processing of speech sounds at the level of segmental identity.
KEY WORDS: specific language impairment, speech perception, identification
Submitted on December 18, 2003
Revised on June 2, 2004
Accepted on December 5, 2004
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