Li, Fangfang

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    Voice Onset Time in a language without voicing contrast: an acoustic analysis of Blackfoot oral stops
    (Cambridge University Press, 2024) Genee, Inge; Li, Fangfang
    This paper presents an acoustic analysis of Voice Onset Time (VOT) in oral stop consonants in Blackfoot, an Algonquian language without contrastive voicing. We focus on VOT as one of the key temporal acoustic correlates of voicing and investigate VOT variation in relation to (i) place of articulation (labial vs. alveolar vs. velar); (ii) length (long vs. short), quality (/a/ vs. /o/), and accent pattern (accented vs. unaccented) of the following vowel; (iii) word position (initial vs. medial); (iv) gender; and (v) age. We analyzed 2096 stop consonant tokens produced by 13 participants, who completed two different tasks: an English-to-Blackfoot translation task and a picture naming task. The key findings are as follows: (i) Blackfoot stop consonants fall into the short-lag range that overlaps with the English voiced category, with mean VOT values ranging from 11.6–32.7 ms; (ii) VOT values become progressively longer as the place of articulation moves to more posterior positions; (iii) VOT values are longer before high vowels than before low vowels; (iv) VOT values are longer before long vowels than before short vowels; (v) no statistically significant effect was found for the linguistic factors word position and accent pattern; (vi) no statistically significant effect was found for the socio-indexical factors age and gender; and (vii) no statistically significant effect was found for the experimental factor task type. The implications of our findings for the Blackfoot writing system and ongoing work on language documentation and revitalization are briefly discussed.
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    Articulation speaks to executive function: an investigation in 4- to 6-year olds
    (Frontiers Media, 2018) Netelenbos, Nicole; Gibb, Robbin L.; Li, Fangfang; Gonzalez, Claudia L. R.
    Executive function (EF) and language learning play a prominent role in early childhood development. Empirical research continues to point to a concurrent relation between these two faculties. What has been given little attention, however, is the association between EF and speech articulation abilities in children. This study investigated this relation in children aged 4–6 years. Significant correlations indicated that children with better EF [via parental report of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF)inventory] exhibited stronger speech sound production abilities in the articulation of the “s” and “sh” sounds. Furthermore, regression analyses revealed that the Global Executive Composite (GEC) of EF as measured by the BRIEF, served as a predictor for speech sound proficiency and that speech sound proficiency served as a predictor for the GEC. Together, these results demonstrate the imbricated nature of EF and speech sound production while bearing theoretical and practical implications. From a theoretical standpoint, the close link between EF and speech articulation may indicate a common ontogenetic pathway. From a practical perspective, the results suggest that children with speech difficulties could be at higher risk for EF deficits.
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    Speech production of French immersion children
    (University of Lethbridge, 2013) Netelenbos, Nicole; Bartlett, Jordan; Hanna, Mackenzie; Hu, Yelin; Paulgaard, Melissa; Shi, Yanjun; Li, Fangfang
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    Speech in action: degree of hand preference for grasping predicts speech articulation competence in children
    (Frontiers Media, 2014) Gonzalez, Claudia L. R.; Li, Fangfang; Mills, Kelly J.; Rosen, Nicole; Gibb, Robbin L.
    Degree of lateralization for grasping predicts the maturity of the language production system in young, typically-developing children. In this report we provide compelling evidence for the relationship between right hand grasp-to-mouth (i.e.,feeding) movements and language development. Specifically, we show that children (4–5years old) who are more right-hand lateralized in picking up small food items for consumption show enhanced differentiation of the “s” and “sh” sounds. This result suggests that left hemisphere control of hand-to-mouth gestures may have provided an evolutionary platform for the development of language. The current investigation presents the exciting possibility that early right hand-to-mouth training could accelerate the development of articulation skills.
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    Getting the right grasp on executive function
    (Frontiers, 2014) Gonzalez, Claudia L. R.; Mills, Kelly J.; Genee, Inge; Li, Fangfang; Piquette-Tomei, Noëlla A.; Rosen, Nicole; Gibb, Robbin L.
    Executive Function (EF) refers to important socio-emotional and cognitive skills that are known to be highly correlated with both academic and life success. EF is a blanket term that is considered to include self-regulation, working memory, and planning. Recent studies have shown a relationship between EF and motor control. The emergence of motor control coincides with that of EF, hence understanding the relationship between these two domains could have significant implications for early detection and remediation of later EF deficits. The purpose of the current study was to investigate this relationship in young children. This study incorporated the Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) and two motor assessments with a focus on precision grasping to test this hypothesis.The BRIEF is comprised of two indices of EF: (1) the Behavioral Regulation Index (BRI) containing three subscales: Inhibit, Shift,and Emotional Control; (2) the Metacognition Index (MI) containing five subscales: Initiate, Working Memory, Plan/Organize, Organization of Materials, and Monitor. A global executive composite (GEC) is derived from the two indices. In this study, right-handed children aged 5–6 and 9–10 were asked to: grasp-to-construct (Lego®models); and grasp-to-place (wooden blocks), while their parents completed the BRIEF questionnaire. Analysis of results indicated significant correlations between the strength of right hand preference for grasping and numerous elements of the BRIEF including the BRI, MI, and GEC. Specifically, the more the right hand was used for grasping the better the EF ratings. In addition, patterns of space-use correlated with the GEC in several subscales of the BRIEF. Finally and remarkably, the results also showed a reciprocal relationship between hand and space use for grasping and EF. These findings are discussed with respect to: (1) the developmental overlap of motor and executive functions; (2) detection of EF deficits through tasks that measure lateralization of hand and space use; and (3) the possibility of using motor interventions to remediate EF deficits.