Statistical Learning, Syllable Processing, and Speech Production in Healthy Hearing and Hearing-Impaired Preschool Children: A Mismatch Negativity Study

Studer-Eichenberger, Esther; Studer-Eichenberger, Felix; König, Thomas (2016). Statistical Learning, Syllable Processing, and Speech Production in Healthy Hearing and Hearing-Impaired Preschool Children: A Mismatch Negativity Study. Ear and hearing, 37(1), e57-71. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000197

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The objectives of the present study were to investigate temporal/spectral sound-feature processing in preschool children (4 to 7 years old) with peripheral hearing loss compared with age-matched controls. The results verified the presence of statistical learning, which was diminished in children with hearing impairments (HIs), and elucidated possible perceptual mediators of speech production.


Perception and production of the syllables /ba/, /da/, /ta/, and /na/ were recorded in 13 children with normal hearing and 13 children with HI. Perception was assessed physiologically through event-related potentials (ERPs) recorded by EEG in a multifeature mismatch negativity paradigm and behaviorally through a discrimination task. Temporal and spectral features of the ERPs during speech perception were analyzed, and speech production was quantitatively evaluated using speech motor maximum performance tasks.


Proximal to stimulus onset, children with HI displayed a difference in map topography, indicating diminished statistical learning. In later ERP components, children with HI exhibited reduced amplitudes in the N2 and early parts of the late disciminative negativity components specifically, which are associated with temporal and spectral control mechanisms. Abnormalities of speech perception were only subtly reflected in speech production, as the lone difference found in speech production studies was a mild delay in regulating speech intensity.


In addition to previously reported deficits of sound-feature discriminations, the present study results reflect diminished statistical learning in children with HI, which plays an early and important, but so far neglected, role in phonological processing. Furthermore, the lack of corresponding behavioral abnormalities in speech production implies that impaired perceptual capacities do not necessarily translate into productive deficits.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Psychiatric Neurophysiology [discontinued]
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Studer-Eichenberger, Esther, König, Thomas


400 Language > 410 Linguistics
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Lippincott Williams & Wilkins




Thomas König

Date Deposited:

30 Sep 2015 15:13

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:49

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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