Nittrouer and colleagues [Nittrouer, J. Phonetics 20, 1-32 (1992); Nittrouer and Miller, J Acoust. Soc. Am. 101, 2253-2265 (1997); Nittrouer et al., Percept. Psychophys. 62 (2000)] have found that in identifying certain syllable contrasts, young children make more use of syllable-internal formant transitions (relative to other available acoustic cues) than do older children and adults. The evidence for this change in the degree to which listeners weight, or use, certain cues comes predominantly from studies of fricative contrasts (e.g., /sV/-/(sh)V/, /sV/-/stV/, /Vs/-/V(sh)/). The current study tests the flexibility of children's weighting of acoustic cues by examining cue weighting across a wider range of phonetic contexts. In particular, this study attempts to determine whether children's focus of perceptual attention can be led away from transitions in contexts where such cues are relatively less salient. Additionally, the study tests children's ability to identify phonemes in an extreme situation, in the complete absence of transitional information. [Work supported by Wellcome Trust.
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