Dr. Irena Lovčević

Postdoctoral Researcher

Acoustic features of infant-directed speech to infants with hearing loss

Irena Lovcevic, Marina Kalashnikova, Denis Burnham

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 148, 3399 (2020)


This study investigated the effects of hearing loss and hearing experience on the acoustic features of infant-directed speech (IDS) to infants with hearing loss (HL) compared to controls with normal hearing (NH) matched by either chronological or hearing age (experiment 1) and across development in infants with hearing loss as well as the relation between IDS features and infants' developing lexical abilities (experiment 2). Both experiments included detailed acoustic analyses of mothers' productions of the three corner vowels /a, i, u/ and utterance-level pitch in IDS and in adult-directed speech. Experiment 1 demonstrated that IDS to infants with HL was acoustically more variable than IDS to hearing-age matched infants with NH. Experiment 2 yielded no changes in IDS features over development; however, the results did show a positive relationship between formant distances in mothers' speech and infants' concurrent receptive vocabulary size, as well as between vowel hyperarticulation and infants' expressive vocabulary. These findings suggest that despite infants' HL and thus diminished access to speech input, infants with HL are exposed to IDS with generally similar acoustic qualities as are infants with NH. However, some differences persist, indicating that infants with HL might receive less intelligible speech.