Sensory-motor relationships in speech production in post-lingually deaf cochlear-implanted adults and normal-hearing seniors: Evidence from phonetic convergence and speech imitation

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Speech communication can be viewed as an interactive process involving a functional coupling between sensory and motor systems. One striking example comes from phonetic convergence, when speakers automatically tend to mimic their interlocutor's speech during communicative interaction. The goal of this study was to investigate sensory-motor linkage in speech production in postlingually deaf cochlear implanted participants and normal hearing elderly adults through phonetic convergence and imitation. To this aim, two vowel production tasks, with or without instruction to imitate an acoustic vowel, were proposed to three groups of young adults with normal hearing, elderly adults with normal hearing and post-lingually deaf cochlear-implanted patients. Measure of the deviation of each participant's f0 from their own mean f0 was measured to evaluate the ability to converge to each acoustic target.


showed that cochlear-implanted participants have the ability to converge to an acoustic target, both intentionally and unintentionally, albeit with a lower degree than young and elderly participants with normal hearing. By providing evidence for phonetic convergence and speech imitation, these results suggest that, as in young adults, perceptuo-motor relationships are efficient in elderly adults with normal hearing and that cochlear-implanted adults recovered significant perceptuo-motor abilities following cochlear implantation.

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