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Volume 11 Issue 4 (2015)

Word Detection in Sung and Spoken Sentences in Children With Typical Language Development or With Specific Language Impairment original article

pp. 118-135 | First published on 31 December 2015 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0177-8

Clément Planchou, Sylvain Clément, Renée Béland, Nia Cason, Jacques Motte, Séverine Samson


Background: Previous studies have reported that children score better in language tasks using sung rather than spoken stimuli. We examined word detection ease in sung and spoken sentences that were equated for phoneme duration and pitch variations in children aged 7 to 12 years with typical language development (TLD) as well as in children with specific language impairment (SLI), and hypothesized that the facilitation effect would vary with language abilities. Method: In Experiment 1, 69 children with TLD (7–10 years old) detected words in sentences that were spoken, sung on pitches extracted from speech, and sung on original scores. In Experiment 2, we added a natural speech rate condition and tested 68 children with TLD (7–12 years old). In Experiment 3, 16 children with SLI and 16 age-matched children with TLD were tested in all four conditions. Results: In both TLD groups, older children scored better than the younger ones. The matched TLD group scored higher than the SLI group who scored at the level of the younger children with TLD. None of the experiments showed a facilitation effect of sung over spoken stimuli. Conclusions: Word detection abilities improved with age in both TLD and SLI groups. Our findings are compatible with the hypothesis of delayed language abilities in children with SLI, and are discussed in light of the role of durational prosodic cues in words detection.

Keywords: word detection, sung sentences, language development, Specific Language Impairment

Handwriting or Typewriting? The Influence of Pen or Keyboard-Based Writing Training on Reading and Writing Performance in Preschool Children original article

pp. 136-146 | First published on 31 December 2015 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0178-7

Markus Kiefer, Stefanie Schuler, Carmen Mayer, Natalie M. Trumpp, Katrin Hille, Steffi Sachse


Digital writing devices associated with the use of computers, tablet PCs, or mobile phones are increasingly replacing writing by hand. It is, however, controversially discussed how writing modes influence reading and writing performance in children at the start of literacy. On the one hand, the easiness of typing on digital devices may accelerate reading and writing in young children, who have less developed sensory-motor skills. On the other hand, the meaningful coupling between action and perception during handwriting, which establishes sensory-motor memory traces, could facilitate written language acquisition. In order to decide between these theoretical alternatives, for the present study, we developed an intense training program for preschool children attending the German kindergarten with 16 training sessions. Using closely matched letter learning games, eight letters of the German alphabet were trained either by handwriting with a pen on a sheet of paper or by typing on a computer keyboard. Letter recognition, naming, and writing performance as well as word reading and writing performance were assessed. Results did not indicate a superiority of typing training over handwriting training in any of these tasks. In contrast, handwriting training was superior to typing training in word writing, and, as a tendency, in word reading. The results of our study, therefore, support theories of action-perception coupling assuming a facilitatory influence of sensory-motor representations established during handwriting on reading and writing.

Keywords: written language acquisition, literacy training, embodied cognition, digital media, preschool children

Writing, Reading, and Listening Differentially Overload Working Memory Performance Across the Serial Position Curve original article

pp. 147-155 | First published on 31 December 2015 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0179-6

Richard Tindle, Mitchell G. Longstaf


Previous research has assumed that writing is a cognitively complex task, but has not determined if writing overloads Working Memory more than reading and listening. To investigate this, participants completed three recall tasks. These were reading lists of words before recalling them, hearing lists of words before recalling them, and hearing lists of words and writing them as they heard them, then recalling them. The experiment involved serial recall of lists of 6 words. The hypothesis that fewer words would be recalled overall when writing was supported. Post-hoc analysis revealed the same pattern of results at individual serial positions (1 to 3). However, there was no difference between the three conditions at serial position 4, or between listening and writing at positions 5 and 6 which were both greater than recall in the reading condition. This suggests writing overloads working memory more than reading and listening, particularly in the early serial positions. The results show that writing interferes with working memory processes and so is not recommended when the goal is to immediately recall information.

Keywords: working memory, reading, listening, writing, serial recall

How the Learning Path and the Very Structure of a Multifloored Environment Influence Human Spatial Memory original article

pp. 156-162 | First published on 31 December 2015 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0180-5

Laurent Dollé, Jacques Droulez, Daniel Bennequin, Alain Berthoz, Guillaume Thibault


Few studies have explored how humans memorize landmarks in complex multifloored buildings. They have observed that participants memorize an environment either by floors or by vertical columns, influenced by the learning path. However, the influence of the building’s actual structure is not yet known. In order to investigate this influence, we conducted an experiment using an object-in-place protocol in a cylindrical building to contrast with previous experiments which used rectilinear environments. Two groups of 15 participants were taken on a tour with a first person perspective through a virtual cylindrical three-floored building. They followed either a route discovering floors one at a time, or a route discovering columns (by simulated lifts across floors). They then underwent a series of trials, in which they viewed a camera movement reproducing either a segment of the learning path (familiar trials), or performing a shortcut relative to the learning trajectory (novel trials). We observed that regardless of the learning path, participants better memorized the building by floors, and only participants who had discovered the building by columns also memorized it by columns. This expands on previous results obtained in a rectilinear building, where the learning path favoured the memory of its horizontal and vertical layout. Taken together, these results suggest that both learning mode and an environment’s structure influence the spatial memory of complex multifloored buildings.

Keywords: navigation and spatial memory, spatial cognition, representation