Language, Cognition and Neuroscience
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Prior work suggests listeners are sensitive to coarticulatory cues during spoken word recognition; however, little is known about how this ability develops in children. In the present study, children and adults listened to words containing congruent and incongruent coarticulatory cues while looking at a two-picture display. We manipulated the congruency of the auditory-coarticulatory information such that the initial phoneme of the auditory cue matched the target, or contained an incongruent initial phoneme that instead matched the distractor picture. Accordingly, we observed both slower rates of looks to the target and higher rates of looks to the distractor on incongruent trials, indicating that both children and adults were sensitive to coarticulatory congruency. These findings suggest that children maintain detailed phonological representations of words, and may use coarticulatory information to facilitate spoken word recognition.