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Objectives: To examine the hypothesis that infants receiving a degraded auditory signal have more difficulty segmenting words from fluent speech if familiarized with the words presented in both speech and sign compared to familiarization with the words presented in speech only. Study Design: Experiment utilizing an infant-controlled visual preference procedure. Methods: Twenty 8.5-month-old normal-hearing infants completed testing. Infants were familiarized with repetitions of words in either the speech + sign (n = 10) or the speech only (n = 10) condition. Results: Infants were then presented with four six-sentence passages using an infant-controlled visual preference procedure. Every sentence in two of the passages contained the words presented in the familiarization phase, whereas none of the sentences in the other two passages contained familiar words.Infants exposed to the speech + sign condition looked at familiar word passages for 15.3 seconds and at nonfamiliar word passages for 15.6 seconds, t (9) = -0.130, p = .45. Infants exposed to the speech only condition looked at familiar word passages for 20.9 seconds and to nonfamiliar word passages for 15.9 seconds. This difference was statistically significant, t (9) = 2.076, p = .03. Conclusions: Infants' ability to segment words from degraded speech is negatively affected when these words are initially presented in simultaneous speech and sign. The current study suggests that a decreased ability to segment words from fluent speech may contribute towards the poorer performance of pediatric cochlear implant recipients in total communication settings on a wide range of spoken language outcome measures.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ting, J. Y., Bergeson, T. R., & Miyamoto, R. T. (2012). Effects of simultaneous speech and sign on infants’ attention to spoken language. The Laryngoscope, 122(12), 2808-2812., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

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