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Voice processing abilities in children with autism, children with specific language impairments and young typically developing children

By Jill Boucher, V. (Vicky) Lewis and Glyn Collis


It is well established that people with autism have impaired face processing, but much less is known about voice processing in autism. Four experiments were therefore carried out to assess (1) familiar voice-face and sound-object matching; (2) familiar voice recognition; (3) unfamiliar voice discrimination; and (4) vocal affect naming and vocal-facial affect matching. In Experiments 1 and 2 language-matched children with specific language impairment (SLI) were the controls. In Experiments 3 and 4 language-matched children with SLI and young mainstream children were the controls. The results were unexpected: the children with autism were not impaired relative to controls on Experiments 1, 2 and 3, and were superior to the children with SLI on both parts of Experiment 4, although impaired on affect matching relative to the mainstream children. These results are interpreted in terms of an unexpected impairment of voice processing in the children with SLI associated partly, but not wholly, with an impairment of cross-modal processing. Performance on the experimental tasks was not associated with verbal or nonverbal ability in either of the clinical groups. The implications of these findings for understanding autism and SLI are discussed

Topics: BF
Publisher: Cambridge University press
Year: 2000
OAI identifier:

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