Individual differences in language and working memory affect children’s speech recognition in noise

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44 Scopus citations


Objective: We examined how cognitive and linguistic skills affect speech recognition in noise for children with normal hearing. Children with better working memory and language abilities were expected to have better speech recognition in noise than peers with poorer skills in these domains. Design: As part of a prospective, cross-sectional study, children with normal hearing completed speech recognition in noise for three types of stimuli: (1) monosyllabic words, (2) syntactically correct but semantically anomalous sentences and (3) semantically and syntactically anomalous word sequences. Measures of vocabulary, syntax and working memory were used to predict individual differences in speech recognition in noise. Study sample: Ninety-six children with normal hearing, who were between 5 and 12 years of age. Results: Higher working memory was associated with better speech recognition in noise for all three stimulus types. Higher vocabulary abilities were associated with better recognition in noise for sentences and word sequences, but not for words. Conclusions: Working memory and language both influence children’s speech recognition in noise, but the relationships vary across types of stimuli. These findings suggest that clinical assessment of speech recognition is likely to reflect underlying cognitive and linguistic abilities, in addition to a child’s auditory skills, consistent with the Ease of Language Understanding model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-315
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 4 2017


  • Behavioural measures
  • noise
  • paediatric
  • psychoacoustics/hearing science
  • speech perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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