Blog Archives

Development of social perception: A conversation study of 6-, 12- and 36-month-old children

A conversation is made up of visual and auditory signals in a complex flow of events. What is the relative importance of these components for young children’s ability to maintain attention on a conversation? In the present set of experiments the visual and auditory signals were disentangled in four filmed events. The visual events were either accompanied by the speech sounds of the conversation or by matched motor sounds and the auditory events by either the natural visual turn taking of the conversation or a matched turn taking of toy trucks. A cornea-reflection technique was used to record the gaze-pattern of subjects while they were looking at the films. Three age groups of typically developing children were studied; 6-month-olds, 1-year-olds and 3-year-olds. The results show that the children are more attracted by the social component of the conversation independent of the kind of sound used. Older children find spoken language more interesting than motor sound. Children look longer at the speaking agent when humans maintain the conversation. The study revealed that children are more attracted to the mouth than to the eyes area. The ability to make more predictive gaze shifts develops gradually over age.

from Infant Behavior and Development

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Noisy zones of proximal development: Conversation in noisy classrooms

Despite the importance of context in studies of language use, sociolinguists have ignored the impact of noise on conversational interaction. This inattention is of particular concern in classrooms where language is a learning tool. Our research on interaction in noisy settings took place in English language elementary school classrooms with students in grades 3, 5, and 7, whose first language was English. Students were observed during regular classroom activities. Employing a novel method, in which students wore ear-level microphones, we obtained stereophonic recordings of the noise and conversation that reached each listener’s ears. A dosimeter measured the noise levels in each classroom. Analyses of students’ patterns of conversation suggest that noise levels impeded the intended development of complex conversational interaction and collaborative learning. This study also questions the place of acoustics in understanding context, and the significance of the hearer’s perspective in sociolinguistic studies of conversational interactions.

from Journal of Sociolinguistics

Contributions to the talk of individuals with aphasia in multiparty interactions

Conclusions: It is argued that rather than simply representing a face-threat in themselves, these participant speaking roles represent work by participants to reduce face-threat through the exploitation of the preference organisation of conversational structure. It is suggested that an understanding of these conversational resources provides important insights to guide clinical intervention with communication partnerships.

from Aphasiology

A Corpus Analysis of Patterns of Age-Related Change in Conversational Speech

Conversational speech from over 300 speakers from 17 to 68 years of age was analyzed for age-related changes in the timing and content of spoken language production. Overall, several relationships between the lexical content, timing, and fluency of speech emerged, such that more novel and lower frequency words were associated with slower speech and higher levels of disfluencies. Speaker age was associated with slower speech and more filled pauses, particularly those associated with lexical selection. Increasing age, however, was also associated with longer utterances and greater lexical diversity. On balance, these analyses present a picture of age-related changes in speech performance that largely support data obtained from controlled laboratory studies. However, particular patterns of age-related change may be moderated in conversational situations.

from Psychology and Aging

Who Said What? Sampling Conversation Repair Behavior Involving Adults with Acquired Hearing Impairment

Aural rehabilitation techniques provide clinicians with a range of intervention strategies to address the impact of acquired hearing impairment on everyday conversation. Although clinicians rely on assessment of speech reception abilities in the clinic and self-report of the effects of intervention on conversation and psychosocial issues, they do not currently possess techniques by which they might directly assess changes in everyday conversational behavior following intervention. This article reports on studies that have sampled conversation behavior, particularly patterns of repair, as a basis for such direct assessment. These studies provide initial evidence of the potential for clinical assessment of conversation behavior as a direct method for evaluating the outcome of conversation-based aural rehabilitation techniques. This article reviews research into the assessment of repair in conversations involving adults who have acquired hearing impairment (HI). The article uses conversation analysis as the guiding methodology and theory to address acquired HI as a communication disorder. The ways in which conversation may be disrupted by an acquired HI are described, and the conduct and limitations of current technological and conversation-based rehabilitation for this population are discussed.

from Seminars in Hearing

Effects of a Conversation Intervention on the Expressive Vocabulary Development of Prekindergarten Children

Findings suggest that relatively small amounts of linguistically and cognitively complex conversation with a trained adult can be a useful strategy for improving the expressive vocabulary skills of children with low vocabularies.

from Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools

Who Said What? Sampling Conversation Repair Behavior Involving Adults with Acquired Hearing Impairment

Aural rehabilitation techniques provide clinicians with a range of intervention strategies to address the impact of acquired hearing impairment on everyday conversation. Although clinicians rely on assessment of speech reception abilities in the clinic and self-report of the effects of intervention on conversation and psychosocial issues, they do not currently possess techniques by which they might directly assess changes in everyday conversational behavior following intervention. This article reports on studies that have sampled conversation behavior, particularly patterns of repair, as a basis for such direct assessment. These studies provide initial evidence of the potential for clinical assessment of conversation behavior as a direct method for evaluating the outcome of conversation-based aural rehabilitation techniques. This article reviews research into the assessment of repair in conversations involving adults who have acquired hearing impairment (HI). The article uses conversation analysis as the guiding methodology and theory to address acquired HI as a communication disorder. The ways in which conversation may be disrupted by an acquired HI are described, and the conduct and limitations of current technological and conversation-based rehabilitation for this population are discussed.

from Seminars in Hearing

How does the topic of conversation affect verbal exchange and eye gaze? A comparison between typical development and high-functioning autism

Conversation is a primary area of difficultly for individuals with high-functioning autism (HFA) although they have unimpaired formal language abilities. This likely stems from the unstructured nature of face-to-face conversation as well as the need to coordinate other modes of communication (e.g. eye gaze) with speech. We conducted a quantitative analysis of both verbal exchange and gaze data obtained from conversations between children with HFA and an adult, compared with those of typically developing children matched on language level. We examined a new question: how does speaking about a topic of interest affect reciprocity of verbal exchange and eye gaze? Conversations on generic topics were compared with those on individuals’ circumscribed interests, particularly intense interests characteristic of HFA. Two opposing hypotheses were evaluated. Speaking about a topic of interest may improve reciprocity in conversation by increasing participants’ motivation and engagement. Alternatively, it could engender more one-sided interaction, given the engrossing nature of circumscribed interests. In their verbal exchanges HFA participants demonstrated decreased reciprocity during the interest topic, evidenced by fewer contingent utterances and more monologue-style speech. Moreover, a measure of stereotyped behaviour and restricted interest symptoms was inversely related to reciprocal verbal exchange. However, both the HFA and comparison groups looked significantly more to their partner’s face during the interest than generic topic. Our interpretation of results across modalities is that circumscribed interests led HFA participants to be less adaptive to their partner verbally, but speaking about a highly practiced topic allowed for increased gaze to the partner. The function of this increased gaze to partner may differ for the HFA and comparison groups.

from Neuropsychologia

Language, meaning, context, and functional communication

Conclusions: Language as information is only one form of language use. The paper argues for further consideration in aphasiology of the importance of multiple language uses and their relation to context. It is proposed that regarding language forms from these different perspectives of use will enable clinicians to further address the different aspects of communication required for meaningful and satisfying interactions in everyday social life.

from Aphasiology

Implementing and evaluating aphasia therapy targeted at couples’ conversations: A single case study

Conclusions: The study provides evidence that directly targeting the conversational behaviours of the person with aphasia and/or a main conversational partner can produce positive change, and can achieve this in a way that is ecologically valid. In particular, it highlights the usefulness of targeting conversational behaviours that are proving to be maladaptive for the participants. It provides further evidence that creating change in the non-aphasic partner’s conversational behaviour may facilitate change in the person with aphasia’s conversational and linguistic performance.

from Aphasiology

Deaf teenagers with cochlear implants in conversation with hearing peers

Conclusions & Implications: The deaf teenagers with CI in the study seem to be equally collaborative and responsible conversational partners as the hearing teenagers. The interpretation is that certain conditions in this study facilitate their participation in conversation. Such conditions might be a calm environment, a task that is structured and without time limits and that the partner is well known to the teenager with CI.

from the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

Do the hands have it? The facilitation effects of arm and hand gesture on word retrieval in aphasia

Conclusions: Gesture production is multifunctional for people with aphasia. People with mild aphasia, who have the majority of their linguistic resources still accessible, are likely to experience facilitation from gesture production, and hence gesture treatment maybe an appropriate and potent therapy focus. Some individuals with severe language impairment are capable of using many rich, communicative gestures. Such gesture expression should be explored as a viable component of a “total communication” therapeutic approach for those individuals.

from Aphasiology

Cross-cultural variation of speech-accompanying gesture: A review

This article reviews the literature on cross-cultural variation of gestures. Four factors governing the variation were identified. The first factor is the culture-specific convention for form-meaning associations. This factor is involved in well-known cross-cultural differences in emblem gestures (e.g., the OK-sign), as well as pointing gestures. The second factor is culture-specific spatial cognition. Representational gestures (i.e., iconic and deictic gestures) that express spatial contents or metaphorically express temporal concepts differ across cultures, reflecting the cognitive differences in how direction, relative location and different axes in space are conceptualised and processed. The third factor is linguistic differences. Languages have different lexical and syntactic resources to express spatial information. This linguistic difference is reflected in how gestures express spatial information. The fourth factor is culture-specific gestural pragmatics, namely the principles under which gesture is used in communication. The culture-specificity in politeness of gesture use, the role of nodding in conversation, and the use of gesture space are discussed.

from Language and Cognitive Processes

Collaborative role construction in a conversation with dementia: An application of systemic functional linguistics

This study applies the tools provided by Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) to the description of patterns in a conversation between a person with dementia and a person without. It shows how, in the presence of, on the one hand, considerable communicative and cognitive deficits, and on the other, a collaborative interlocutor, a person with dementia succeeds in leading and sustaining a lengthy conversation, and of constructing for himself a positive role in the interaction, namely that of the elder advising a much younger man.

from Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics

Using question words or asking yes/no questions: Failure and success in clarifying the intentions of a boy with high-functioning autism

This paper examined the processes that resulted in an adult failing to comprehend the intentions of a boy with high-functioning autism. In a dyadic conversation between an adult and a young boy, the adult used questions to elicit clarification of intentions. The boy’s responses were examined frame-by-frame using videotape microanalysis. Two causes of adult misunderstanding were formulaic use of words that confused the listener and directional gaze away from the listener. Questions that used interrogatives often failed to clarify the intention of the boy and yes/no questions appeared suitable to clarify his intention. However, success or failure to clarify an intention was not based solely on differences in the question format. Differences in question content may also have been relevant. Yes/no questions were mainly used to ask about specific actions. On the other hand, interrogative questions were used to handle cognitive or meta-cognitive matters.

from Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics