Lab Members: Jill Thorson, Nicole Usher, Rupal Patel
Collaborators: Jon Brumberg (University of Kansas), Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (MIT), Nanette Veilleux (Simmons College)
Funding: NIH Grant No. R03-HD064787
Spoken communication is more than merely producing and perceiving words in a sentence frame; how the utterance is produced (i.e. prosody) can dramatically alter the intended message. Although it is well known that adults use a wide variety of prosodic forms, less is known about how children develop these forms and at what age. Previous research on children's prosody has relied on imitation and production tasks that may be confounded by the child's under-developed vocal motor system.
In Prosodic Marionette, children demonstrate knowledge through manipulation of word-icon blocks bearing the intonational components of an utterance in order to match a target production. Thus, assessment of prosodic knowledge can be decoupled from general development of speech motor function. The goal of our current studies with Prosodic Marionette is to uncover children's emerging knowledge of the grammar of spoken prosody and to shed light on how this knowledge emerges into mastery of the adult inventory.