No AccessAmerican Journal of Speech-Language PathologyResearch Article16 Nov 2022

Developmental Changes in the Perception of Vocal Loudness and Voice Quality in 3- to 6-Year-Old Children


    The study's primary aim was to investigate developmental changes in the perception of vocal loudness and voice quality in children 3–6 years of age. A second aim was to evaluate a testing procedure—the intermodal preferential looking paradigm (IPLP)—for the study of voice perception in young children.


    Participants were categorized in two age groups: 3- to 4-year-olds and 5- to 6-year-olds. Children were tested remotely via a Zoom appointment and completed two perceptual tasks: (a) voice discrimination and (b) voice identification. Each task consisted of two tests: a vocal loudness test and a voice quality test.


    Children in the 5- to 6-year-old group were significantly more accurate than children in the 3- to 4-year-old group in discriminating and identifying differences between voices for both loudness and voice quality. The IPLP, used in the identification task, was found to successfully detect differences between the age groups for overall accuracy and for most of the sublevels of vocal loudness and voice quality.


    Results suggest that children's ability to discriminate and identify differences in vocal loudness and voice quality improves with age. Findings also support the use of the IPLP as a useful tool to study voice perception in young children.


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