Impact of Working Memory Constraints on Speech Monitoring in Healthy Children




Lentz, Tanya Louise

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The purpose of the current study was to examine the impact of working memory on speech monitoring processes in the primary language of school-age children using the framework of Levelt’s Perceptual Loop Theory of speech production (1983). A community sample of eight children aged 6-8 and fourteen children aged 10-12 completed 4 verbal description tasks under different conditions; control, working memory load, white noise and combined working memory load and white noise. Participants also completed measures of listening span, digit span and spatial span. The results indicate that with increasing working memory load, children make significantly more speech errors, silent pauses and repetitions. No relationship was found between working memory and total repairs per errors or between working memory and total number of editing terms used. Group differences across the conditions were not significant; however, age-related trends were notable. Younger children had greater difficulty monitoring their speech with the introduction of working memory load; whereas, older children had greater difficulty with the introduction of white noise. A revised speech production model incorporating aspects of working memory is recommended and implications for clinical populations are discussed.



Working Memory, Speech Monitoring, Children