This project explores whether basic auditory processing abilities in children, specifically those concerned with tracking the rhythms of speech, can predict literacy in Swedish. The project builds on prior experimental work in English being carried out in the host laboratory (Professor Usher Go swami). Using new measures of children\'s ability to track the \andquot; beats\andquot; in the rhythm of speech, Go swami and colleagues have shown specific difficulties in these measures of rhythmic processing in dyslexic children, and superior ability to track the auditory cues associated with speech rhythm in precocious readers.
If the relationships shown are causal, then
(a) similar relationships should be found in other languages, and
(b) basic auditory processing skills should predict literacy in two languages when children are bilingual.
The causal link proposed is at the level of the development of phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate sounds in words (e.g. to recognise that \andquot; cat\andquot; and \andquot; hat\andquot; rhyme). Go swami and colleagues have proposed that the ability to track the \andquot; stress beats\unquote; in speech is important for children\'s ability to represent phonological information at the syllable level, and in particular to pinpoint the vowel in any syllable (the vowel accounts for the major increase in amplitude in the speech signal yielding the \andquot; beat\andquot; of each syllable). The applicant has just completed a Ph.D. on the development of phonological processing in Swedish monolingual and bilingual children, for which she designed and standardised a range of new phonological awareness tasks. The current project hence capitalises on this new development by giving these phonological awareness tasks and Go swami\'s speech rhythm detection tasks to groups of monolingual and bilinguaSwedish children in a longitudinal design.
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