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Phondi: Kuniko Nielsen on phonetic imitation

Friday, April 5, 2013
12:00 AM
473 Lorh Hall

Phonetic imitation by individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Professor Kuniko Nielsen from Oakland University will present in Phondi today on her ongoing research about phonetic imitation - a topic that is very relevant to the research programs of several of the current Phondi members! Full information about her presentation, including a title and abstract, is given below.

Phonetic imitation by individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

This study investigates the word- and phoneme-specificity of imitation produced by individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Previous research has shown that individuals with ASD process language differently from the Neurotypical population (e.g., Ullman 2004; Walenski et al. 2006), with Autistic individuals relying more on declarative memory. Previous work with the general population has shown a robust effect of phonetic imitation as well as generalization and weak word-specificity effects (Nielsen, 2011). To test whether individuals with ASD exhibit increased specificity, we used Nielsen's (2011) experimental paradigm, which has been shown to elicit generalized phonetic imitation in the general population. A Linear Mixed Effects regression analysis revealed that increased VOT on the modeled phoneme /p/ was imitated by both ASD and control groups. However, different patterns emerged in phoneme-level specificity: the control group exhibited sub-phonemic generalization (increasing VOT on /p/ and /k/), while the ASD group exhibited a phoneme-specific pattern (increasing VOT only on /p/). Furthermore, a stronger trend toward word-specificity was observed within the ASD group. Taken together, these results confirm the earlier finding that ASD individuals exhibit greater reliance on declarative memory.