Monthly Archives: February 2011

Prelinguistic vocal development and children with hearing loss who are acquiring Spanish

Prelinguistic vocal development is the process by which children begin to produce increasingly complex, phonetically diverse, and speech-like utterances before they say words on a regular basis. Despite its clinical interest, few studies have explored vocal development in very young children with hearing loss who are acquiring Spanish. This article represents an effort to fill this gap. In it, the reader will find a discussion of typical patterns of development in children from different language environments, with a special emphasis on Spanish. In addition, procedures for assessing vocal development through speech sampling and an intervention approach for children with delays in vocal development are presented. This information is intended to be of use for speech-language therapists, audiologists, and teachers of deaf children, and to encourage further research into the prelinguistic and early linguistic abilities of very young children with hearing losses who come from Spanish-speaking families.

from Revista de Logopedia, Foniatría y Audiología

Phonological Short term memory in deaf children fitted with a cochlear implant: effects of phonological similarity, word lenght and lipreading cues

Phonological short-term memory (pSTM), or the ability to hold information in mind for a few seconds, is investigated in deaf children fitted with a cochlear implant (CI children) before the age of 3 years, in the framework of Baddeley’s model. Results show that, compared to their age-matched hearing controls, CI children are delayed in the development of their pSTM capacity, and exhibit reduced effect of phonological similarity (PSE) and word length (WLE). However, when CI children are matched for pSTM capacity with younger NH children, the difference regarding PSE and WLE disappear. The CI children do not produce more order errors than NH children. Taken together, the results indicate normal resources of functioning of pSTM. The reasons for the shorter pSTM span in CI children are discussed.

from Revista de Logopedia, Foniatría y Audiología

The impact of the menopause on the voice

During lifetime the female larynx is very sensitive to sex hormone fluctuations. In the menopause the serum levels of estrogens and progesterone decrease dramatically so that the ratio of estrogens-progesterone to androgens changes in aid of the last hormone. This article gives an overview of the recent literature about the impact of the menopause on the larynx and the vocal quality. Secondly the effect of hormone replacement therapy in the menopause on the larynx and the vocal performance is discussed.

from Revista de Logopedia, Foniatría y Audiología

The influence of parents’ speech on the development of spoken language in German-speaking children with cochlear implants

The present study examines the effect of parents’ language input on the linguistic progress of children with cochlear implants. Participants were 21 children with cochlear implants and their mothers. Age at implantation ranged between 14 and 46 months. The study was longitudinal with data collections every 4½ months for a period of 27 months. Spontaneous speech in a free play situation with a parent was recorded at each data point. Children’s grammar was measured in terms of Men Length of Utterance (MLU) and the use of noun plurals, verb markings, and case and gender markings on articles. Mothers’ child-directed speech was analysed in terms of MLU, self-repetitions and expansions. Time-lagged correlational analyses were performed relating properties of maternal speech at an earlier data point —while controlling for the child’s language level at this data point— to child language at subsequent data points. The results showed that maternal MLU and expansions are positively related to child linguistic progress. Higher maternal MLU and more expansions are related to higher child MLU subsequently. More specifically, expansions of specific grammatical structures are related to an increased correct use of these structures by the child subsequently. This was the case particularly for case and gender marking on articles, but also for noun plurals and verb markings. Maternal self-repetitions were negatively related to child progress in grammar. The results demonstrate an effect on mothers’ language input on the linguistic progress of young children with cochlear implants. Rich language input leads to better language growth.

from Revista de Logopedia, Foniatría y Audiología

Mucosal Bridge of the Vocal Fold: Difficulties in the Diagnosis and Treatment

Mucosal bridges are rare laryngeal lesions probably of genetic origin. They may cause dysphonia of varying degrees, especially when associated with other laryngeal lesions such as vocal sulci and cysts. Reports on mucosal bridges are rare, and the better treatment is inconclusive.

from the Journal of Voice

Quality of the Voice Literature: What is There and What is Missing

There are strengths in the voice literature with increasing focus on levels of evidence. Areas of deficit are: publishing negative studies, publishing risk-benefit assessment, well-structured accurate abstracts, studies in children, voice function in laryngeal stenosis and in laryngeal cancer, clinical implications of basic science voice research, worldwide diversity, appropriate advertising, humor, and thoughtful letters to the editor. There are areas that appear to be excessive: self-citations and redundant case series.

from the Journal of Voice

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome With Severe Dysphagia

Ramsay Hunt syndrome, first described by J. Ramsay Hunt in 1907, encompassed the symptoms of otalgia, erythematous vesicular rash on the auricle, and facial paralysis. Although rare, in some cases, the varicella zoster virus responsible for the illness can also be associated with involvement of cranial nerves III–XII, cervical nerves, aseptic meningitis, and the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone. We present a case of a patient with clinical evidence of Ramsay Hunt syndrome involving the cranial nerves V, VII, VIII, X, and, possibly, XII. Pharyngeal wall and vocal fold paralysis, and severely reduced laryngeal elevation, resulted in such significant dysphagia that percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube placement was required.

from the Journal of Voice

Voice Training and Changing Weight—Are They Reflected in Speaking Fundamental Frequency, Voice Range, and Pitch Breaks of 13-Year-Old Girls? A Longitudinal Study

In this longitudinal study of twenty 13-year-old girls, voice changes in SFo, vocal range, and pitch-break frequency were synchronous with certain weight ranges. Girls with training registered higher maximum phonational frequency and were more confident in their voice use than girls without training.

from the Journal of Voice

Otoacoustic emission retrograde standing waves caused by eartip foams

Travelling the retrograde path from the inner ear towards the entrance of the ear canal, otoacoustic emissions (OAE) are apt to be affected by the impedance of the eartip foam. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the complex reflection coefficient at the surface of eartip foam specimens. This was carried out by means of a conventional impedance tube. Measurements were performed with a closed end as well as with an open end behind the eartip foam, the latter configuration being considered as a more realistic analogy to the in-situ performance of eartips. For both configurations of the impedance tube, a high reflection coefficient of the foam was measured, representing an acoustically rigid boundary. Retrograde OAE standing waves are, hence, anticipated when modelling the path taken by the OAE signals. These retrograde standing waves would result in an OAE node near the tympanic membrane at the quarter-wavelength frequencies of the ear canal, rendering the measurements inaccurate at that location. Recording OAEs at the entrance of the ear canal is thus preferable. Moreover, the compression of the foam eartips, evaluated using a specially designed foam specimen, proved to have no significant effect on the reflection coefficient.

from Applied Acoustics

Relations between perceptual measures of temporal processing, auditory-evoked brainstem responses and speech intelligibility in noise

This study investigates behavioural and objective measures of temporal auditory processing and their relation to the ability to understand speech in noise. The experiments were carried out on a homogeneous group of seven hearing-impaired listeners with normal sensitivity at low frequencies (up to 1 kHz) and steeply sloping hearing losses above 1 kHz. For comparison, data were also collected for five normal-hearing listeners. Temporal processing was addressed at low frequencies by means of psychoacoustical frequency discrimination, binaural masked detection and amplitude-modulation (AM) detection. In addition, auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) to clicks and broadband rising chirps were recorded. Furthermore, speech reception thresholds (SRTs) were determined for Danish sentences in speech-shaped noise. The main findings were: (1) SRTs were neither correlated with hearing sensitivity as reflected in the audiogram nor with the AM detection thresholds which represent an envelope-based measure of temporal resolution; (2) SRTs were correlated with frequency discrimination and binaural masked detection which are associated with temporal fine-structure coding; (3) The wave-V thresholds for the chirp-evoked ABRs indicated a relation to SRTs and the ability to process temporal fine structure. Overall, the results demonstrate the importance of low-frequency temporal processing for speech reception which can be affected even if pure-tone sensitivity is close to normal.

from Hearing Research

BATting multilingual primary progressive aphasia for Greek, English, and Czech

We report and compare results from the Bilingual Aphasia Test (BAT) in three languages in a multilingual individual with a fluent primary progressive aphasia (PPA): Greek, English, and Czech. Our participant, SG, is a 60-year-old male who shows focal atrophy of the left temporal and parietal lobes typical of PPA. He is highly educated and holds a full-time job in computer maintenance. He has relative preservation of memory and appropriate social behavior, and he carries out most activities of daily living, including driving, without assistance. Prior to his illness he was highly proficient, in speaking/hearing as well as reading/writing, in Greek (both the local, sociolinguistically ‘low’ variety of Cypriot Greek and the ‘high’ Standard Modern Greek), English, and Czech. All languages were used on a daily basis for different environments (such as home, work, and travel). Assessment on the BAT across languages reveals difficulties with auditory comprehension for complex items, semantic interpretation, and (morpho)syntactic operations, but generally preserved repetition, reading, and writing.

from the Journal of Neurolinguistics

Sublexical ambiguity effect in reading Chinese disyllabic compounds

For Chinese compounds, neighbors can share either both orthographic forms and meanings, or orthographic forms only. In this study, central presentation and visual half-field (VF) presentation methods were used in conjunction with ERP measures to investigate how readers solve the sublexical semantic ambiguity of the first constituent character in reading a disyllabic compound. The sublexical ambiguity of the first character was manipulated while the orthographic neighborhood sizes of the first and second character (NS1, NS2) were controlled. Subjective rating of number of meanings corresponding to a character was used as an index of sublexical ambiguity. Results showed that low sublexical ambiguity words elicited a more negative N400 than high sublexical ambiguity words when words were centrally presented. Similar patterns were found when words were presented to the left VF. Interestingly, different patterns were observed for pseudowords. With left VF presentation, high sublexical ambiguity psudowords showed a more negative N400 than low sublexical ambiguity pseudowords. In contrast, with right VF presentation, low sublexical ambiguity pseudowords showed a more negative N400 than high sublexical ambiguity pseudowords. These findings indicate that a level of morphological representation between form and meaning needs to be established and refined in Chinese. In addition, hemispheric asymmetries in the use of word information in ambiguity resolution should be taken into account, even at sublexical level.

from Brain and Language

Do all ducks lay eggs? The generic overgeneralization effect

Generics are statements such as “tigers are striped” and “ducks lay eggs”. They express general, though not universal or exceptionless, claims about kinds (Carlson & Pelletier, 1995). For example, the generic “ducks lay eggs” seems true even though many ducks (e.g. the males) do not lay eggs. The universally quantified version of the statement should be rejected, however: it is incorrect to say “all ducks lay eggs”, since many ducks do not lay eggs. We found that adults nonetheless often judged such universal statements true, despite knowing that only one gender had the relevant property (Experiment 1). The effect was not due to participants interpreting the universals as quantifying over subkinds, or as applying to only a subset of the kind (e.g. only the females) (Experiment 2), and it persisted even when people judged that male ducks did not lay eggs only moments before (Experiment 3). It also persisted when people were presented with correct alternatives such as “some ducks do not lay eggs” (Experiment 4). Our findings reveal a robust generic overgeneralization effect, predicted by the hypothesis that generics express primitive, default generalizations.

from the Journal of Memory and Language

Who’s at Risk for Hearing Loss?

Feb. 23, 2011 — Certain heart disease risk factors, heredity, and having a noisy job are associated with hearing loss in middle-aged adults, a new study shows.

Researchers analyzed information on 3,285 people ranging in age from 21 to 84, evaluating hearing loss as a pure-tone average greater than 25 decibels in either ear.

Also measured was participant word recognition at different sound levels with male and female voices. Those in the study provided details of their medical history, behaviors, and environmental factors.

Hearing Loss Rate in Older Adults Climbs to More Than 60 Percent in National Survey

Nearly two-thirds of Americans age 70 and older have hearing loss, but those who are of black race seem to have a protective effect against this loss, according to a new study led by Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging researchers. These findings, published online Feb. 28 in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, provide what is believed to be the first nationally representative survey in older adults on this often ignored and underreported condition.