Infants and adults use visual cues to improve detection and discrimination of speech in noise

Kaylah Lalonde, Lynne A. Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study assessed the extent to which 6-to 8.5-month-old infants and 18-to 30-year-old adults detect and discriminate auditory syllables in noise better in the presence of visual speech than in auditory-only conditions. In addition, we examined whether visual cues to the onset and offset of the auditory signal account for this benefit. Method: Sixty infants and 24 adults were randomly assigned to speech detection or discrimination tasks and were tested using a modified observer-based psychoacoustic procedure. Each participant completed 1–3 conditions: auditory-only, with visual speech, and with a visual signal that only cued the onset and offset of the auditory syllable. Results: Mixed linear modeling indicated that infants and adults benefited from visual speech on both tasks. Adults relied on the onset–offset cue for detection, but the same cue did not improve their discrimination. The onset–offset cue benefited infants for both detection and discrimination. Whereas the onset–offset cue improved detection similarly for infants and adults, the full visual speech signal benefited infants to a lesser extent than adults on the discrimination task. Conclusions: These results suggest that infants’ use of visual onset–offset cues is mature, but their ability to use more complex visual speech cues is still developing. Additional research is needed to explore differences in audiovisual enhancement (a) of speech discrimination across speech targets and (b) with increasingly complex tasks and stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3860-3875
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Infants and adults use visual cues to improve detection and discrimination of speech in noise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this