Loudness and Intelligibility of Irrelevant Background Speech Differentially Hinder Children's Short Story Reading

Giada Guerra*, Jurgen Tijms, Anniek Vaessen, Adam Tierney, Frederic Dick, Milene Bonte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Reading skills are usually assessed in silent conditions, but children often experience noisy educational settings. Effects of auditory distraction on children's reading skills remain relatively unexplored. The present study investigates the influence of two features of background speech—intelligibility and loudness—on children's reading speed and comprehension. Sixty‐three 8‐to‐10‐year‐old elementary school children performed a reading task in the context of single‐talker background speech. Background speech was either intelligible or unintelligible and presented at low (45–50 dB SPL) or moderate (65–72 dB SPL) sound intensity (here termed “loudness”). Results showed a differential effect of intelligibility and loudness, respectively affecting children's comprehension and reading speed. In addition, the intelligibility effect was larger in children with lower interference control, as assessed with an auditory Stroop task. Our findings provide evidence for the influence of different properties of background speech on children's text reading with implications for reading in everyday classroom environments
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalMind Brain and Education
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • ROAD TRAFFIC NOISE
  • SHORT-TERM-MEMORY
  • UNATTENDED SPEECH
  • COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE
  • AUDITORY DISTRACTION
  • COMPREHENSION
  • ATTENTION
  • AIRCRAFT
  • EXPOSURE
  • STIMULUS

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