The effects of phonotactic probability and neighborhood density on adults’ word learning in noisy conditions

Min Kyung Han, Holly L. Storkel, Jaehoon Lee, Casey Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Noisy conditions make auditory processing difficult. This study explores whether noisy conditions influence the effects of phonotactic probability (the likelihood of occurrence of a sound sequence) and neighborhood density (phonological similarity among words) on adults’ word learning. Method: Fifty-eight adults learned nonwords varying in phonotactic probability and neighborhood density in either an unfavorable (0-dB signal-to-noise ratio [SNR]) or a favorable (+8-dB SNR) listening condition. Word learning was assessed using a picture naming task by scoring the proportion of phonemes named correctly. Results: The unfavorable 0-dB SNR condition showed a significant interaction between phonotactic probability and neighborhood density in the absence of main effects. In particular, adults learned more words when phonotactic probability and neighborhood density were both low or both high. The +8-dB SNR condition did not show this interaction. These results are inconsistent with those from a prior adult word learning study conducted under quiet listening conditions that showed main effects of word characteristics. Conclusions: As the listening condition worsens, adult word learning benefits from a convergence of phonotactic probability and neighborhood density. Clinical implications are discussed for potential populations who experience difficulty with auditory perception or processing, making them more vulnerable to noise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-560
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2016

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