Benefits of Speech Manipulation for
Children With Language Disorders
University of Nijmegen
The relationship of auditory processing problems to language learning problems is well established (see chaps. 4 and 8, this volume; Tallal, 2000). It is generally believed that language impairment is strongly related to difficulties in the temporal processing of both auditory and visual information. It is hypothesized that children with SLI differ from their peers in the ability to discriminate and process the basic components of speech, and that such speech discrimination problems are related to difficulties in the processing of brief sensory cues or rapidly changing sequential information. Such temporal processing deficit is even thought of as a biological marker of language disorders given that such deficits appear to emerge as early as the first year of life (see Benasich & Tallal, 1996). From an etiological point of view, temporal processing deficits are assigned to incomplete mental representations of phonetic information due to inherited inferior learning systems or speech and/or visual reception problems, which are associated with a limited use of the temporal information available in acoustic and visual stimuli (Merzenich et al., 1993; Merzenich & Jenkins, 1995). It is assumed that limitations in the segmentation and integration of temporal information may lead to neurological changes affecting language development.
The claim that deficits in the ability to process temporal information may be the cause of language impairment has important implications for remediation. In recent research, an attempt has been made to develop speech modification algorithms to evoke critical language learning proc-