Understanding parental speech to improve hearing aids

Research

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Recent research on the characteristics of child-directed speech provides more evidence that mothers and fathers speak to their young children in a different way.

Research presented at the 169th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, held in Pittsburgh, PA (USA), offers new evidence that fathers speak to their children in a different way than mothers. Although both use child-directed speech known as “motherese”, the sing-song, high pitch tone used when talking to infants and children, there appear to be differences in the way each parent approaches communication.

Scientists from Washington State University’s Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences analyzed data from all-day recordings of the interactions between 11 children with a mean age of 30 months and their parents. They found that fundamental frequency was different when comparing findings for the two parents, as well as frequency variability and range.

The findings suggest that the two distinct forms of child-directed speech may complement one another for the child’s language development. “Dads spoke to their children more like they spoke to other adults rather than in a special way,” said lead author Mark Vandam. “We’ve hypothesized that children get to try out certain kinds of speech with mom and get to try out other kinds of speech with dad.”

The researchers hope that this initial study will lead to more research and provide a way to improve speech recognition algorithms used in hearing aids and cochlear implants for children with hearing impairments.

Source: Tech Times

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