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Review on the effects of noise and impaired voice (Schiller et al., 2021)

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journal contribution
posted on 14.12.2021, 00:55 authored by Isabel S. Schiller, Angélique Remacle, Nancy Durieux, Dominique Morsomme
Purpose: Background noise and voice problems among teachers can degrade listening conditions in classrooms. The aim of this literature review is to understand how these acoustic degradations affect spoken language processing in 6- to 18-year-old children.
Method: In a narrative report and meta-analysis, we systematically review studies that examined the effects of noise and/or impaired voice on children’s response accuracy and response time (RT) in listening tasks. We propose the Speech Processing under Acoustic DEgradations (SPADE) framework to classify relevant findings according to three processing dimensions—speech perception, listening comprehension, and auditory working memory—and highlight potential moderators.
Results: Thirty-one studies are included in this systematic review. Our meta-analysis shows that noise can impede children’s accuracy in listening tasks across all processing dimensions (Cohen’s d between −0.67 and −2.65, depending on signal-to-noise ratio) and that impaired voice lowers children’s accuracy in listening comprehension tasks (d = −0.35). A handful of studies assessed RT, but results are inconclusive. The impact of noise and impaired voice can be moderated by listener, task, environmental, and exposure factors. The interaction between noise and impaired voice remains underinvestigated.
Conclusions: Overall, this review suggests that children have more trouble perceiving speech, processing verbal messages, and recalling verbal information when listening to speech in noise or to a speaker with dysphonia. Impoverished speech input could impede pupils’ motivation and academic performance at school.

Supplemental Material S1. Description of typical listening tasks used to assess spoken language processing in children and classification into SPADE dimensions.

Schiller, I. S., Remacle, A., Durieux, N., & Morsomme, D. (2021). Effects of noise and a speaker’s impaired voice quality on spoken language processing in school-aged children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2021_JSLHR-21-00183


This work was supported by a PhD grant of the University of Liège (No. RD/DIR–vdu/2016.7166).