Skip navigation
  A. Un -"Masking" A Speech Problem

Narrator: This is Science Today. A language disorder which affects millions of young children in this country may now be easier to diagnose and treat. Dr. Michael

Merzenich: (Merzen-ICK) of the University of California, San Francisco, says specific language impairment stems from defective hearing reception.

Merzenich:: These children hear speech in a fuzzy way, because their abnormal interference is in sound that they’re receiving.

Narrator:

Merzenich: says this happens because of a process called "masking", in which a child can’t detect brief parts of speech that are quickly followed by other sounds.

Merzenich:: Language impaired children have problems in distinguishing ba and da when they’re presented in fast or natural form. They have this breakdown because the vowel is masking the consonant.. the AH is masking the ba or the da.

Narrator:

Merzenich: and his colleagues are finding good results with a program they call fast forward, in which the two sounds are made more prominent. Merzenick: And it has the impact for hearing, for speech reception, that applying corrective lenses has for a child that needs visual correction.

Narrator: For Science Today, I’m Larissa Branin.