REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202202.0056.v1
Subject: Behavioral Sciences, Applied Psychology Keywords: virtual reality; autism spectrum disorder; education; intervention; childhood and adolescence
Online: 3 February 2022 (15:17:12 CET)
Virtual reality (VR) technology gains theoretical support from rehabilitation and pedagogical theories and offers a variety of capabilities in educational and interventional contexts with affordable products. VR is attracting increasing attention in the medical and healthcare industry as it provides fully interactive three-dimensional simulations of real-world settings and social situations, which are particularly suitable for cognitive and performance training including social and interaction skills. The worldwide rising trend in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder calls for innovative and efficacious techniques for assessment and treatment. The article offers a summary of current perspectives and evidence-based applications of VR technology as an educational and intervention tool for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, with a primary focus on social communication including social functioning, emotion recognition, and speech and language. Technology- and design-related limitations as well as the disputes over the application of virtual reality to autism research and therapy are discussed and future directions of this emerging field are highlighted with regards to application expansion and improvement, technology enhancement, and the development of brain-based research and theoretical models.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202211.0007.v1
Subject: Behavioral Sciences, Cognitive & Experimental Psychology Keywords: high variability phonetic training (HVPT), categorical perception (CP), cochlear implant (CI), lexical tone, Mandarin-speaking kindergarteners, training-induced gains
Online: 1 November 2022 (01:41:59 CET)
Objectives: Although pitch reception poses a great challenge for individuals with cochlear implants (CIs), formal auditory training (e.g., high variability phonetic training, HVPT) has been shown to provide direct benefits in pitch-related perceptual performances such as lexical tone recognition for CI users. As lexical tones in spoken language are expressed with a multitude of distinct spectral, temporal, and intensity cues, it is important to determine the sources of training benefits for CI users. The purpose of the present study was to conduct a rigorous fine-scale evaluation with the categorical perception (CP) paradigm to control the acoustic parameters and test the efficacy and sustainability of HVPT for Mandarin-speaking pediatric CI recipients. The main hypothesis was that HVPT-induced perceptual learning would greatly enhance CI users’ ability to extract the primary pitch contours from spoken words for lexical tone identification and discrimination. Furthermore, individual differences in immediate and long-term gains from training would likely be attributable to baseline performance and duration of CI use. Design: Twenty-eight prelingually deaf Mandarin-speaking kindergarteners with CIs were tested. Half of them received five sessions of HVPT within a period of three weeks. The other half served as control who did not receive the formal training. Two classical CP tasks on a tonal continuum from Mandarin Tone 1 (high-flat in pitch) to Tone 2 (mid-rising in pitch) with fixed acoustic features of duration and intensity were administered before (pretest), immediately after (posttest), and 10 weeks post training termination (follow-up test). Participants were instructed to either label a speech stimulus along the continuum (i.e., identification task) or determine whether a pair of stimuli separated by zero or two steps from the continuum was the same or different (i.e., discrimination task). Identification function measures (i.e., boundary position and boundary width) and discrimination function scores (i.e., between-category score, within-category score, and peakedness score) were assessed for each child participant across the three test sessions.Results: Linear mixed-effects (LME) models showed significant training-induced enhancement in lexical tone categorization with significantly narrower boundary width and better between-category discrimination in the immediate posttest over pretest for the trainees. Furthermore, training-induced gains were reliably retained in the follow-up test 10 weeks after training. By contrast, no significant changes were found in the control group across sessions. Regression analysis confirmed that baseline performance (i.e., boundary width in the pretest session) and duration of CI use were significant predictors for the magnitude of training-induced benefits. Conclusions: The stringent CP tests with synthesized stimuli that excluded acoustic cues other than the pitch contour and were never used in training showed strong evidence for the efficacy of HVPT in yielding immediate and sustained improvement in lexical tone categorization for Mandarin-speaking children with CIs. The training results and individual differences have remarkable implications for developing personalized computer-based short-term HVPT protocols that may have sustainable long-term benefits for aural rehabilitation in this clinical population.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202206.0212.v1
Subject: Arts & Humanities, Linguistics Keywords: pitch perception; autism spectrum disorder; meta-analysis
Online: 15 June 2022 (05:41:36 CEST)
Purpose: Pitch plays an important role in auditory perception of music and language. This study provides a systematic review with meta-analysis to investigate whether individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have enhanced pitch processing ability and identify the potential factors associated with processing differences between ASD and neurotypicals. Method: We conducted a systematic search through six major electronic databases focusing on the studies that used nonspeech stimuli to provide a qualitative and quantitative assessment across existing studies on pitch perception in autism. We identified potential participant- and methodology-related moderators and conducted meta-regression analyses using mixed-effects models. Results: On the basis of 22 studies with a total of 464 participants with ASD, we obtained a small-to-medium positive effect size (0.26) in support of enhanced pitch perception in ASD.Moreover, the mean age and non-verbal IQ of participants were found to significantly moderate the between-studies heterogeneity. Conclusion: Our study provides the first meta-analysis on auditory pitch perception in ASD and demonstrates the existence of different developmental trajectories between individuals with ASD and neurotypicals. Non-verbal ability can be a significant contributor to the lower-level/ local processing bias in ASD. We highlight the need for further investigation of pitch perception in ASD under challenging listening conditions. Future neurophysiological and brain imaging research studies with a longitudinal design are also needed to better understand the nature of the atypical processing in ASD to obtain new insights into the underlying neural mechanisms and to help guide auditory-based interventions for improving language and social functioning.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202211.0041.v1
Subject: Arts & Humanities, Linguistics Keywords: older adults; whispered speech; lexical tone; vowel; duration; intensity
Online: 2 November 2022 (03:53:54 CET)
Purpose: This study aimed to examine how aging and modifications of critical acoustic parameters may affect the perception of whispered speech as a degraded signal. Method: Forty Mandarin-speaking adults were included in the study. Part 1 of the study compared the perception of Mandarin lexical tones, vowels, and syllables in older and younger adults in whispered vs. phonated speech conditions. Parts 2 and 3 further examined how modification of duration and intensity cues contributed to the perceptual outcomes. Results: Perception of whispered tones was compromised in older and younger adults. Older adults identified lexical tones less accurately than their younger counterparts, particularly for phonated T2, T3 and whispered T3. Aging also negatively affected the vowel identification of /i, u/ in the whispered condition. Syllable-level accuracy was largely dependent on the accuracy of lexical tones and vowels. Furthermore, reduced duration led to the decreased accuracy of phonated T3 and whispered T2, T3 but increased accuracy of phonated T4. Reduced intensity lowered the recognition accuracy for phonated vowels /i, ɤ, o, y/ in older adults and /i, u/ in younger adults, and it also lowered the accuracy of whispered vowels /a, ɤ/ in older adults. Contrary to our expectation, increased duration and intensity did not improve older adults’ speech perception in either phonated or whispered conditions. Conclusion: The results suggest that aging adversely affected speech perception in both phonated and whispered conditions with more challenges in identifying whispered speech for older adults. While older adults’ diminished performance may be potentially due to problems with processing the degraded temporal and spectral information of the target speech sounds, it cannot be simply compensated for by increasing the duration and intensity of the target sounds beyond the audible level.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202210.0424.v1
Subject: Arts & Humanities, Linguistics Keywords: emotional speech processing; communication channel; emotion category; task type
Online: 27 October 2022 (08:04:59 CEST)
How language mediates emotional perception and experience is poorly understood. The present event-related potential (ERP) study examined the explicit and implicit processing of emotional speech to differentiate the relative influences of communication channel, emotion category and task type in the prosodic salience effect. Thirty participants (15 women) were presented with spoken words denoting happiness, sadness and neutrality in either the prosodic or semantic channel. They were asked to judge the emotional content (explicit task) and speakers’ gender (implicit task) of the stimuli. Results indicated that emotional prosody (relative to semantics) triggered larger N100 and P200 amplitudes with greater delta, theta and alpha inter-trial phase coherence (ITPC) values in the corresponding early time windows, and continued to produce larger LPC amplitudes and faster responses during late stages of higher-order cognitive processing. The relative salience of prosodic and semantics was modulated by emotion and task, though such modulatory effects varied across different processing stages. The prosodic salience effect was reduced for sadness processing and in the implicit task during early auditory processing and decision-making but reduced for happiness processing in the explicit task during conscious emotion processing. Additionally, across-trial synchronization of delta, theta and alpha bands predicted the ERP components with higher ITPC values significantly associated with stronger N100, P200 and LPC enhancement. These findings reveal the neurocognitive dynamics of emotional speech processing with prosodic salience tied to stage-dependent emotion- and task-specific effects, which can reveal insights to research reconciling language and emotion processing from cross-linguistic/cultural and clinical perspectives.