Informational masking of speech in children: Auditory-visual integration

Frederic Wightman*, Doris Kistler, Douglas Brungart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The focus of this study was the release from informational masking that could be obtained in a speech task by viewing a video of the target talker. A closed-set speech recognition paradigm was used to measure informational masking in 23 children (ages 6-16 years) and 10 adults. An audio-only condition required attention to a monaural target speech message that was presented to the same ear with a time-synchronized distracter message. In an audiovisual condition, a synchronized video of the target talker was also presented to assess the release from informational masking that could be achieved by speechreading. Children required higher target/distracter ratios than adults to reach comparable performance levels in the audio-only condition, reflecting a greater extent of informational masking in these listeners. There was a monotonic age effect, such that even the children in the oldest age group (12-16.9 years) demonstrated performance somewhat poorer than adults. Older children and adults improved significantly in the audiovisual condition, producing a release from informational masking of 15 dB or more in some adult listeners. Audiovisual presentation produced no informational masking release for the youngest children. Across all ages, the benefit of a synchronized video was strongly associated with speechreading ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3940-3949
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


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