Nonword repetition by children with cochlear implants: Accuracy ratings from normal-hearing listeners

Caitlin M. Dillon, Rose A. Burkholder, Miranda Cleary, David B. Pisoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


Seventy-six children with cochlear implants completed a nonword repetition task. The children were presented with 20 nonword auditory patterns over a loudspeaker and were asked to repeat them aloud to the experimenter. The children's responses were recorded on digital audiotape and then played back to normal-hearing adult listeners to obtain accuracy ratings on a 7-point scale. The children's nonword repetition performance, as measured by these perceptual accuracy ratings, could be predicted in large part by their performance on independently collected measures of speech perception, verbal rehearsal speed, and speech production. The strongest contributing variable was speaking rate, which is widely argued to reflect verbal rehearsal speed in phonological working memory. Children who had become deaf at older ages received higher perceptual ratings. Children whose early linguistic experience and educational environments emphasized oral communication methods received higher perceptual ratings than children enrolled in total communication programs. The present findings suggest that individual differences in performance on nonword repetition are strongly related to variability observed in the component processes involved in language imitation tasks, including measures of speech perception, speech production, and especially verbal rehearsal speed in phonological working memory. In addition, onset of deafness at a later age and an educational environment emphasizing oral communication may be beneficial to the children's ability to develop the robust phonological processing skills necessary to accurately repeat novel, nonword sound patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1116
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Children
  • Cochlear implants
  • Communication mode
  • Nonword repetition
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Linguistics and Language

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