Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Marc Joanisse


Studies examining sensitivity to coarticulatory cues during spoken word recognition have typically examined children and adults separately. The present thesis compared sensitivity to coarticulatory cues in school-aged children and adults using eyetracking. Children and adults listened to words containing congruent and incongruent coarticulatory cues while looking at a two-picture display. Contrary to theories positing weakened attention to phonetic detail in children, we observed equal or greater sensitivity to coarticulatory cues in children compared to adults. This effect was related to predictors of reading and language proficiency, and was also modulated by phoneme contrasts such that children were overly sensitive to more salient coarticulatory cues. These findings suggest that children are more sensitive to phonetic detail in speech than adults, and the phonological skills underlying this sensitivity are related to individual differences in reading and language ability.