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Previous work has shown that young children exhibit more difficulty understanding speech in the presence of speech-like distractors than do adults, and are more susceptible to at least some form of informational masking (IM). Yet little is known about how/when the “susceptibility” to linguistically-based IM develops. The authors tested adults, school-age children (aged 8 yrs), and preschool-age children (aged 4 yrs) on sentence recognition in the presence of normal speech, “jumbled” speech, and reversed speech distractors. As has been found previously with adults [e.g., Summers and Molis (2004). J. Speech, Lang. Hear. Res. , 245–256], children in both age groups showed a release of masking when the distractor was uninterpretable (reversed speech). This suggests that children already demonstrate linguistically-based IM by the age of 4 yrs.


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