It is known that some adult listeners have more sharply defined perceptual categories than others, and listeners with more precise auditory targets are also more precise in their production of contrasts. There is additionally evidence that children who have not yet mastered production of a contrast show diminished performance on perceptual measures of the same contrast. To date, however, few studies have investigated developmental perception-production relations using the fine-grained measures typical of adult studies. Existing evidence suggests that perception and production can be closely connected in development, but this relationship may break down as perception and articulation mature at different rates. This study evaluated perception and production of the English/r-w/contrast in 40 typically-developing children aged 9-14. Perceptual sensitivity was measured with a logistic function fitted over responses in a forced-choice identification task using two synthetic 10-step continua from rake to wake. Participants also produced rhotic and non-rhotic words. Across participants, there was a significant correlation between perceptual acuity and rhoticity in production, although this effect was only observed for one of two continua tested. These results provide preliminary evidence compatible with the hypothesis that children with a more refined auditory target for a sound also produce that sound more accurately.
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