Objectives: Transfer appropriate processing (TAP) refers to a general finding that training gains are maximized when training and testing are conducted under the same conditions. The present study tested the extent to which TAP applies to speech perception training in children with hearing loss. Specifically, we assessed the benefits of computerbased speech perception training games for enhancing children's speech recognition by comparing three training groups: auditory training (AT), audiovisual training (AVT), and a combination of these two (AT/AVT). We also determined whether talker-specific training, as might occur when children train with the speech of a next year's classroom teacher, leads to better recognition of that talker's speech and if so, the extent to which training benefits generalize to untrained talkers. Consistent with TAP theory, we predicted that children would improve their ability to recognize the speech of the trained talker more than that of three untrained talkers and, depending on their training group, would improve more on an auditory-only (listening) or audiovisual (speechreading) speech perception assessment, that matched the type of training they received. We also hypothesized that benefit would generalize to untrained talkers and to test modalities in which they did not train, albeit to a lesser extent. Design: Ninety-nine elementary school aged children with hearing loss were enrolled into a randomized control trial with a repeated measures A-A-B experimental mixed design in which children served as their own control for the assessment of overall benefit of a particular training type and three different groups of children yielded data for comparing the three types of training. We also assessed talker-specific learning and transfer of learning by including speech perception tests with stimuli spoken by the talker with whom a child trained and stimuli spoken by three talkers with whom the child did not train and by including speech perception tests that presented both auditory (listening) and audiovisual (speechreading) stimuli. Children received 16 hr of gamified training. The games provided word identification and connected speech comprehension training activities. Results: Overall, children showed significant improvement in both their listening and speechreading performance. Consistent with TAP theory, children improved more on their trained talker than on the untrained talkers. Also consistent with TAP theory, the children who received AT improved more on the listening than the speechreading. However, children who received AVT improved on both types of assessment equally, which is not consistent with our predictions derived from a TAP perspective. Age, language level, and phonological awareness were either not predictive of training benefits or only negligibly so. Conclusions: The findings provide support for the practice of providing children who have hearing loss with structured speech perception training and suggest that future aural rehabilitation programs might include teacher-specific speech perception training to prepare children for an upcoming school year, especially since training will generalize to other talkers. The results also suggest that benefits of speech perception training were not significantly related to age, language level, or degree of phonological awareness. The findings are largely consistent with TAP theory, suggesting that the more aligned a training task is with the desired outcome, the more likely benefit will accrue.
- Audiovisual speech perception
- Auditory training
- Aural rehabilitation
- Pediatric audiology