Does the speaker's voice quality influence children's performance on a language comprehension test?

Viveka Lyberg-Åhlander, Magnus Haake, Jonas Brännström, Susanne Schötz, Birgitta Sahlén

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: A small number of studies have explored children's perception of speakers' voice quality and its possible influence on language comprehension. The aim of this explorative study was to investigate the relationship between the examiner's voice quality, the child's performance on a digital version of a language comprehension test, the Test for Reception of Grammar (TROG-2), and two measures of cognitive functioning.

METHOD: The participants were (n = 86) mainstreamed 8-year old children with typical language development. Two groups of children (n = 41/45) were presented with the TROG-2 through recordings of one female speaker: one group was presented with a typical voice and the other with a simulated dysphonic voice.

RESULT: Significant associations were found between executive functioning and language comprehension. The results also showed that children listening to the dysphonic voice achieved significantly lower scores for more difficult sentences ("the man but not the horse jumps") and used more self-corrections on simpler sentences ("the girl is sitting").

CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that a dysphonic speaker's voice may force the child to allocate capacity to the processing of the voice signal at the expense of comprehension. The findings have implications for clinical and research settings where standardized language tests are used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-73
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Age Factors
  • Auditory Pathways/physiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child Development
  • Comprehension
  • Dysphonia/physiopathology
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Speech Acoustics
  • Speech Intelligibility
  • Speech Perception
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Voice Quality


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