Retroflex Versus Bunched in Treatment for Rhotic Misarticulation: Evidence from Ultrasound Biofeedback Intervention

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Method: Eight participants received 8 weeks of individual ultrasound biofeedback treatment targeting rhotics. In Study 1, all 4 participants were cued to match a bunched tongue-shape target. In Study 2, participants received individualized cues aimed at eliciting the tongue shape most facilitative of perceptually correct rhotics.Purpose: To document the efficacy of ultrasound biofeedback treatment for misarticulation of the North American English rhotic in children. Because of limited progress in the first cohort, a series of two closely related studies was conducted in place of a single study. The studies differed primarily in the nature of tongue-shape targets (e.g., retroflex, bunched) cued during treatment.Results: Participants in Study 1 showed only minimal treatment effects. In Study 2, all participants demonstrated improved production of rhotics in untreated words produced without biofeedback, with large to very large effect sizes.Conclusions: The results of Study 2 indicate that with proper parameters of treatment, ultrasound biofeedback can be a highly effective intervention for children with persistent rhotic errors. In addition, qualitative comparison of Studies 1 and 2 suggests that treatment for the North American English rhotic should include opportunities to explore different tongue shapes, to find the most facilitative variant for each individual speaker.



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