Preschoolers benefit from visually salient speech cues

Kaylah Lalonde, Rachael Frush Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study explored visual speech influence in preschoolers using 3 developmentally appropriate tasks that vary in perceptual difficulty and task demands. They also examined developmental differences in the ability to use visually salient speech cues and visual phonological knowledge. Method: Twelve adults and 27 typically developing 3- and 4-year-old children completed 3 audiovisual (AV) speech integration tasks: matching, discrimination, and recognition. The authors compared AV benefit for visually salient and less visually salient speech discrimination contrasts and assessed the visual saliency of consonant confusions in auditory-only and AV word recognition. Results: Four-year-olds and adults demonstrated visual influence on all measures. Three-year-olds demonstrated visual influence on speech discrimination and recognition measures. All groups demonstrated greater AV benefit for the visually salient discrimination contrasts. AV recognition benefit in 4-year-olds and adults depended on the visual saliency of speech sounds. Conclusions: Preschoolers can demonstrate AV speech integration. Their AV benefit results from efficient use of visually salient speech cues. Four-year-olds, but not 3-yearolds, used visual phonological knowledge to take advantage of visually salient speech cues, suggesting possible developmental differences in the mechanisms of AV benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-150
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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