Publications by authors named "Usha Goswami"

84 Publications

Auditory Sensory Processing and Phonological Development in High IQ and Exceptional Readers, Typically Developing Readers, and Children With Dyslexia: A Longitudinal Study.

Child Dev 2020 Aug 27. Epub 2020 Aug 27.

University of Cambridge.

Phonological difficulties characterize children with developmental dyslexia across languages, but whether impaired auditory processing underlies these phonological difficulties is debated. Here the causal question is addressed by exploring whether individual differences in sensory processing predict the development of phonological awareness in 86 English-speaking lower- and middle-class children aged 8 years in 2005 who had dyslexia, or were age-matched typically developing children, some with exceptional reading/high IQ. The predictive relations between auditory processing and phonological development are robust for this sample even when phonological awareness at Time 1 (the autoregressor) is controlled. High reading/IQ does not much impact these relations. The data suggest that basic sensory abilities are significant longitudinal predictors of growth in phonological awareness in children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13459DOI Listing
August 2020

Novel word learning deficits in infants at family risk for dyslexia.

Dyslexia 2020 Feb 28;26(1):3-17. Epub 2020 Jan 28.

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Children of reading age diagnosed with dyslexia show deficits in reading and spelling skills, but early markers of later dyslexia are already present in infancy in auditory processing and phonological domains. Deficits in lexical development are not typically associated with dyslexia. Nevertheless, it is possible that early auditory/phonological deficits would have detrimental effects on the encoding and storage of novel lexical items. Word-learning difficulties have been demonstrated in school-aged dyslexic children using paired associate learning tasks, but earlier manifestations in infants who are at family risk for dyslexia have not been investigated. This study assessed novel word learning in 19-month-old infants at risk for dyslexia (by virtue of having one dyslexic parent) and infants not at risk for any developmental disorder. Infants completed a word-learning task that required them to map two novel words to their corresponding novel referents. Not at-risk infants showed increased looking time to the novel referents at test compared with at-risk infants. These findings demonstrate, for the first time, that at-risk infants show differences in novel word-learning (fast-mapping) tasks compared with not at-risk infants. Our findings have implications for the development and consolidation of early lexical and phonological skills in infants at family risk of later dyslexia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dys.1649DOI Listing
February 2020

Speech rhythm and language acquisition: an amplitude modulation phase hierarchy perspective.

Authors:
Usha Goswami

Ann N Y Acad Sci 2019 10 25;1453(1):67-78. Epub 2019 Jun 25.

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Language lies at the heart of our experience as humans and disorders of language acquisition carry severe developmental costs. Rhythmic processing lies at the heart of language acquisition. Here, I review our understanding of the perceptual and neural mechanisms that support language acquisition, from a novel amplitude modulation perspective. Amplitude modulation patterns in infant- and child-directed speech support the perceptual experience of rhythm, and the brain encodes these rhythm patterns in part via neuroelectric oscillations. When brain rhythms align themselves with (entrain to) acoustic rhythms, speech intelligibility improves. Recent advances in the auditory neuroscience of speech processing enable studies of neuronal oscillatory entrainment in children and infants. The "amplitude modulation phase hierarchy" theoretical perspective on language acquisition is applicable across languages, and cross-language investigations adopting this novel perspective would be valuable for the field.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nyas.14137DOI Listing
October 2019

Delayed development of phonological constancy in toddlers at family risk for dyslexia.

Infant Behav Dev 2019 11 20;57:101327. Epub 2019 Jun 20.

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University, Penrith, Australia.

Phonological constancy refers to infants' ability to disregard variations in the phonetic realisation of speech sounds that do not indicate lexical contrast, e.g., when listening to accented speech. In typically-developing infants, this ability develops between 15- and 19-months of age, coinciding with the consolidation of infants' native phonological competence and vocabulary growth. Here we investigated the developmental time course of phonological constancy in infants at family risk for developmental dyslexia, using a longitudinal design. Developmental dyslexia is a disorder affecting the acquisition of reading and spelling skills, and it also affects early auditory processing, speech perception, and lexical acquisition. Infants at-risk and not at-risk for dyslexia, based on a family history of dyslexia, participated when they were 15-, 19-, and 26-months of age. Phonological constancy was indexed by comparing at-risk and not at-risk infants' ability to recognise familiar words in two preferential looking tasks: (1) a task using words presented in their native accent, and (2) a task using words presented in a non-native accent. We expected a delay in phonological constancy for the at-risk infants. As predicted, in the non-native accent task, not at-risk infants recognised familiar words by 19 months, but at-risk infants did not. The control infants thus exhibited phonological constancy. By 26 months, at-risk toddlers did show successful word recognition in the native accent task. However, for the non-native accent task at 26 months, neither at-risk nor control infants showed familiar word recognition. These findings are discussed in terms of the impact of family risk for dyslexia on toddlers' consolidation of early phonological and lexical skills.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2019.101327DOI Listing
November 2019

Sensitivity to amplitude envelope rise time in infancy and vocabulary development at 3 years: A significant relationship.

Dev Sci 2019 11 10;22(6):e12836. Epub 2019 May 10.

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University, Penrith, Australia.

Here we report, for the first time, a relationship between sensitivity to amplitude envelope rise time in infants and their later vocabulary development. Recent research in auditory neuroscience has revealed that amplitude envelope rise time plays a mechanistic role in speech encoding. Accordingly, individual differences in infant discrimination of amplitude envelope rise times could be expected to relate to individual differences in language acquisition. A group of 50 infants taking part in a longitudinal study contributed rise time discrimination thresholds when aged 7 and 10 months, and their vocabulary development was measured at 3 years. Experimental measures of phonological sensitivity were also administered at 3 years. Linear mixed effect models taking rise time sensitivity as the dependent variable, and controlling for non-verbal IQ, showed significant predictive effects for vocabulary at 3 years, but not for the phonological sensitivity measures. The significant longitudinal relationship between amplitude envelope rise time discrimination and vocabulary development suggests that early rise time discrimination abilities have an impact on speech processing by infants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/desc.12836DOI Listing
November 2019

Impaired Recognition of Metrical and Syntactic Boundaries in Children with Developmental Language Disorders.

Brain Sci 2019 Feb 5;9(2). Epub 2019 Feb 5.

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.

In oral language, syntactic structure is cued in part by phrasal metrical hierarchies of acoustic stress patterns. For example, many children's texts use prosodic phrasing comprising tightly integrated hierarchies of metre and syntax to highlight the phonological and syntactic structure of language. Children with developmental language disorders (DLDs) are relatively insensitive to acoustic stress. Here, we disrupted the coincidence of metrical and syntactic boundaries as cued by stress patterns in children's texts so that metrical and/or syntactic phrasing conflicted. We tested three groups of children: children with DLD, age-matched typically developing controls (AMC) and younger language-matched controls (YLC). Children with DLDs and younger, language-matched controls were poor at spotting both metrical and syntactic disruptions. The data are interpreted within a prosodic phrasing hypothesis of DLD based on impaired acoustic processing of speech rhythm.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9020033DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407018PMC
February 2019

The temporal modulation structure of illiterate versus literate adult speech.

PLoS One 2018 24;13(10):e0205224. Epub 2018 Oct 24.

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

The temporal modulation structure of speech plays a key role in neural encoding of the speech signal. Amplitude modulations (AMs, quasi-rhythmic changes in signal energy or intensity) in speech are encoded by neuronal oscillations (rhythmic variations in neural excitability in large cell networks) that oscillate at matching temporal rates. To date, however, all neural studies have investigated adult-directed speech (ADS) as produced and perceived by highly literate adults. Whether temporal features of ADS vary with the skills of the speaker, for example literacy skills, is currently unknown. Here we analyse the temporal structure of ADS spoken by illiterate, low literate (≤ 4 years of literacy) and highly literate (≥ 12 years of literacy) adults. We find that illiterates produce speech differently. Spontaneous conversational speech produced by illiterate adults showed significantly less synchronised coupling between AM bands (less phase synchronisation) than conversational speech produced by low literate and highly literate adults, and contained significantly fewer syllables per second. There was also a significant relationship between years of literacy and the amount of theta-band energy in conversational speech. When asked to produce rhythmic proverbs learned in childhood, all groups could produce speech with similar AM phase synchronisation, suggesting that the differences in spontaneous conversational speech were not caused by physiological constraints. The data suggest that the temporal modulation structure of spoken language changes with the acquisition of cultural skills like literacy that are usually a product of schooling. There is a cultural effect on the temporal modulation structure of spoken language.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0205224PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6200213PMC
March 2019

Atypical cortical entrainment to speech in the right hemisphere underpins phonemic deficits in dyslexia.

Neuroimage 2018 07 30;175:70-79. Epub 2018 Mar 30.

Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, School of Engineering, Trinity Centre for Bioengineering, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland; Department of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Neuroscience, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA.

Developmental dyslexia is a multifaceted disorder of learning primarily manifested by difficulties in reading, spelling, and phonological processing. Neural studies suggest that phonological difficulties may reflect impairments in fundamental cortical oscillatory mechanisms. Here we examine cortical mechanisms in children (6-12 years of age) with or without dyslexia (utilising both age- and reading-level-matched controls) using electroencephalography (EEG). EEG data were recorded as participants listened to an audio-story. Novel electrophysiological measures of phonemic processing were derived by quantifying how well the EEG responses tracked phonetic features of speech. Our results provide, for the first time, evidence for impaired low-frequency cortical tracking to phonetic features during natural speech perception in dyslexia. Atypical phonological tracking was focused on the right hemisphere, and correlated with traditional psychometric measures of phonological skills used in diagnostic dyslexia assessments. Accordingly, the novel indices developed here may provide objective metrics to investigate language development and language impairment across languages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.03.072DOI Listing
July 2018

The role of phase synchronisation between low frequency amplitude modulations in child phonology and morphology speech tasks.

J Acoust Soc Am 2018 03;143(3):1366

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EB, United Kingdom.

Recent models of the neural encoding of speech suggest a core role for amplitude modulation (AM) structure, particularly regarding AM phase alignment. Accordingly, speech tasks that measure linguistic development in children may exhibit systematic properties regarding AM structure. Here, the acoustic structure of spoken items in child phonological and morphological tasks, phoneme deletion and plural elicitation, was investigated. The phase synchronisation index (PSI), reflecting the degree of phase alignment between pairs of AMs, was computed for 3 AM bands (delta, theta, beta/low gamma; 0.9-2.5 Hz, 2.5-12 Hz, 12-40 Hz, respectively), for five spectral bands covering 100-7250 Hz. For phoneme deletion, data from 94 child participants with and without dyslexia was used to relate AM structure to behavioural performance. Results revealed that a significant change in magnitude of the phase synchronisation index (ΔPSI) of slower AMs (delta-theta) systematically accompanied both phoneme deletion and plural elicitation. Further, children with dyslexia made more linguistic errors as the delta-theta ΔPSI increased. Accordingly, ΔPSI between slower temporal modulations in the speech signal systematically distinguished test items from accurate responses and predicted task performance. This may suggest that sensitivity to slower AM information in speech is a core aspect of phonological and morphological development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.5026239DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6485374PMC
March 2018

Neural Entrainment and Sensorimotor Synchronization to the Beat in Children with Developmental Dyslexia: An EEG Study.

Front Neurosci 2017 12;11:360. Epub 2017 Jul 12.

Department of Psychology, Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of CambridgeCambridge, United Kingdom.

Tapping in time to a metronome beat (hereafter beat synchronization) shows considerable variability in child populations, and individual differences in beat synchronization are reliably related to reading development. Children with developmental dyslexia show impairments in beat synchronization. These impairments may reflect deficiencies in auditory perception of the beat which in turn affect auditory-motor mapping, or may reflect an independent motor deficit. Here, we used a new methodology in EEG based on measuring beat-related steady-state evoked potentials (SS-EPs, Nozaradan et al., 2015) in an attempt to disentangle neural sensory and motor contributions to behavioral beat synchronization in children with dyslexia. Children tapped with both their left and right hands to every second beat of a metronome pulse delivered at 2.4 Hz, or listened passively to the beat. Analyses of preferred phase in EEG showed that the children with dyslexia had a significantly different preferred phase compared to control children in all conditions. Regarding SS-EPs, the groups differed significantly for the passive Auditory listening condition at 2.4 Hz, and showed a trend toward a difference in the Right hand tapping condition at 3.6 Hz (sensorimotor integration measure). The data suggest that neural rhythmic entrainment is atypical in children with dyslexia for both an auditory beat and during sensorimotor coupling (tapping). The data are relevant to a growing literature suggesting that rhythm-based interventions may help language processing in children with developmental disorders of language learning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2017.00360DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506338PMC
July 2017

Prosodic Similarity Effects in Short-Term Memory in Developmental Dyslexia.

Dyslexia 2016 Nov 17;22(4):287-304. Epub 2016 Oct 17.

University of Cambridge, Department of Psychology, Cambridge, UK.

Children with developmental dyslexia are characterized by phonological difficulties across languages. Classically, this 'phonological deficit' in dyslexia has been investigated with tasks using single-syllable words. Recently, however, several studies have demonstrated difficulties in prosodic awareness in dyslexia. Potential prosodic effects in short-term memory have not yet been investigated. Here we create a new instrument based on three-syllable words that vary in stress patterns, to investigate whether prosodic similarity (the same prosodic pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables) exerts systematic effects on short-term memory. We study participants with dyslexia and age-matched and younger reading-level-matched typically developing controls. We find that all participants, including dyslexic participants, show prosodic similarity effects in short-term memory. All participants exhibited better retention of words that differed in prosodic structure, although participants with dyslexia recalled fewer words accurately overall compared to age-matched controls. Individual differences in prosodic memory were predicted by earlier vocabulary abilities, by earlier sensitivity to syllable stress and by earlier phonological awareness. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of prosodic similarity effects in short-term memory. The implications of a prosodic similarity effect for theories of lexical representation and of dyslexia are discussed. © 2016 The Authors. Dyslexia published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dys.1535DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5111605PMC
November 2016

Mothers speak differently to infants at-risk for dyslexia.

Dev Sci 2018 01 27;21(1). Epub 2016 Oct 27.

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University, Australia.

Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder manifested in deficits in reading and spelling skills that is consistently associated with difficulties in phonological processing. Dyslexia is genetically transmitted, but its manifestation in a particular individual is thought to depend on the interaction of epigenetic and environmental factors. We adopt a novel interactional perspective on early linguistic environment and dyslexia by simultaneously studying two pre-existing factors, one maternal and one infant, that may contribute to these interactions; and two behaviours, one maternal and one infant, to index the effect of these factors. The maternal factor is whether mothers are themselves dyslexic or not (with/without dyslexia) and the infant factor is whether infants are at-/not-at family risk for dyslexia (due to their mother or father being dyslexic). The maternal behaviour is mothers' infant-directed speech (IDS), which typically involves vowel hyperarticulation, thought to benefit speech perception and language acquisition. The infant behaviour is auditory perception measured by infant sensitivity to amplitude envelope rise time, which has been found to be reduced in dyslexic children. Here, at-risk infants showed significantly poorer acoustic sensitivity than not-at-risk infants and mothers only hyperarticulated vowels to infants who were not at-risk for dyslexia. Mothers' own dyslexia status had no effect on IDS quality. Parental speech input is thus affected by infant risk status, with likely consequences for later linguistic development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/desc.12487DOI Listing
January 2018

Difficulties in auditory organization as a cause of reading backwardness? An auditory neuroscience perspective.

Dev Sci 2017 Nov 22;20(6). Epub 2016 Sep 22.

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, UK.

Over 30 years ago, it was suggested that difficulties in the 'auditory organization' of word forms in the mental lexicon might cause reading difficulties. It was proposed that children used parameters such as rhyme and alliteration to organize word forms in the mental lexicon by acoustic similarity, and that such organization was impaired in developmental dyslexia. This literature was based on an 'oddity' measure of children's sensitivity to rhyme (e.g. wood, book, good) and alliteration (e.g. sun, sock, rag). The 'oddity' task revealed that children with dyslexia were significantly poorer at identifying the 'odd word out' than younger children without reading difficulties. Here we apply a novel modelling approach drawn from auditory neuroscience to study the possible sensory basis of the auditory organization of rhyming and non-rhyming words by children. We utilize a novel Spectral-Amplitude Modulation Phase Hierarchy (S-AMPH) approach to analysing the spectro-temporal structure of rhyming and non-rhyming words, aiming to illuminate the potential acoustic cues used by children as a basis for phonological organization. The S-AMPH model assumes that speech encoding depends on neuronal oscillatory entrainment to the amplitude modulation (AM) hierarchy in speech. Our results suggest that phonological similarity between rhyming words in the oddity task depends crucially on slow (delta band) modulations in the speech envelope. Contrary to linguistic assumptions, therefore, auditory organization by children may not depend on phonemic information for this task. Linguistically, it is assumed that 'book' does not rhyme with 'wood' and 'good' because the final phoneme differs. However, our auditory analysis suggests that the acoustic cues to this phonological dissimilarity depend primarily on the slower amplitude modulations in the speech envelope, thought to carry prosodic information. Therefore, the oddity task may help in detecting reading difficulties because phonological similarity judgements about rhyme reflect sensitivity to slow amplitude modulation patterns. Slower amplitude modulations are known to be detected less efficiently by children with dyslexia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/desc.12457DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5697577PMC
November 2017

The principles and practices of educational neuroscience: Comment on Bowers (2016).

Psychol Rev 2016 10;123(5):620-7

Centre for Educational Neuroscience, Birkbeck, University of London.

In his recent critique of Educational Neuroscience, Bowers argues that neuroscience has no role to play in informing education, which he equates with classroom teaching. Neuroscience, he suggests, adds nothing to what we can learn from psychology. In this commentary, we argue that Bowers' assertions misrepresent the nature and aims of the work in this new field. We suggest that, by contrast, psychological and neural levels of explanation complement rather than compete with each other. Bowers' analysis also fails to include a role for educational expertise-a guiding principle of our new field. On this basis, we conclude that his critique is potentially misleading. We set out the well-documented goals of research in Educational Neuroscience, and show how, in collaboration with educators, significant progress has already been achieved, with the prospect of even greater progress in the future. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rev0000036DOI Listing
October 2016

Atypical right hemisphere response to slow temporal modulations in children with developmental dyslexia.

Neuroimage 2016 Dec 9;143:40-49. Epub 2016 Aug 9.

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK. Electronic address:

Phase entrainment of neuronal oscillations is thought to play a central role in encoding speech. Children with developmental dyslexia show impaired phonological processing of speech, proposed theoretically to be related to atypical phase entrainment to slower temporal modulations in speech (<10Hz). While studies of children with dyslexia have found atypical phase entrainment in the delta band (~2Hz), some studies of adults with developmental dyslexia have shown impaired entrainment in the low gamma band (~35-50Hz). Meanwhile, studies of neurotypical adults suggest asymmetric temporal sensitivity in auditory cortex, with preferential processing of slower modulations by right auditory cortex, and faster modulations processed bilaterally. Here we compared neural entrainment to slow (2Hz) versus faster (40Hz) amplitude-modulated noise using fNIRS to study possible hemispheric asymmetry effects in children with developmental dyslexia. We predicted atypical right hemisphere responding to 2Hz modulations for the children with dyslexia in comparison to control children, but equivalent responding to 40Hz modulations in both hemispheres. Analyses of HbO concentration revealed a right-lateralised region focused on the supra-marginal gyrus that was more active in children with dyslexia than in control children for 2Hz stimulation. We discuss possible links to linguistic prosodic processing, and interpret the data with respect to a neural 'temporal sampling' framework for conceptualizing the phonological deficits that characterise children with developmental dyslexia across languages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.08.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5139981PMC
December 2016

Neural encoding of the speech envelope by children with developmental dyslexia.

Brain Lang 2016 Sep 17;160:1-10. Epub 2016 Jul 17.

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge, Downing St, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK. Electronic address:

Developmental dyslexia is consistently associated with difficulties in processing phonology (linguistic sound structure) across languages. One view is that dyslexia is characterised by a cognitive impairment in the "phonological representation" of word forms, which arises long before the child presents with a reading problem. Here we investigate a possible neural basis for developmental phonological impairments. We assess the neural quality of speech encoding in children with dyslexia by measuring the accuracy of low-frequency speech envelope encoding using EEG. We tested children with dyslexia and chronological age-matched (CA) and reading-level matched (RL) younger children. Participants listened to semantically-unpredictable sentences in a word report task. The sentences were noise-vocoded to increase reliance on envelope cues. Envelope reconstruction for envelopes between 0 and 10Hz showed that the children with dyslexia had significantly poorer speech encoding in the 0-2Hz band compared to both CA and RL controls. These data suggest that impaired neural encoding of low frequency speech envelopes, related to speech prosody, may underpin the phonological deficit that causes dyslexia across languages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2016.06.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5108463PMC
September 2016

Perception of Filtered Speech by Children with Developmental Dyslexia and Children with Specific Language Impairments.

Front Psychol 2016 30;7:791. Epub 2016 May 30.

School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast Belfast, UK.

Here we use two filtered speech tasks to investigate children's processing of slow (<4 Hz) versus faster (∼33 Hz) temporal modulations in speech. We compare groups of children with either developmental dyslexia (Experiment 1) or speech and language impairments (SLIs, Experiment 2) to groups of typically-developing (TD) children age-matched to each disorder group. Ten nursery rhymes were filtered so that their modulation frequencies were either low-pass filtered (<4 Hz) or band-pass filtered (22 - 40 Hz). Recognition of the filtered nursery rhymes was tested in a picture recognition multiple choice paradigm. Children with dyslexia aged 10 years showed equivalent recognition overall to TD controls for both the low-pass and band-pass filtered stimuli, but showed significantly impaired acoustic learning during the experiment from low-pass filtered targets. Children with oral SLIs aged 9 years showed significantly poorer recognition of band pass filtered targets compared to their TD controls, and showed comparable acoustic learning effects to TD children during the experiment. The SLI samples were also divided into children with and without phonological difficulties. The children with both SLI and phonological difficulties were impaired in recognizing both kinds of filtered speech. These data are suggestive of impaired temporal sampling of the speech signal at different modulation rates by children with different kinds of developmental language disorder. Both SLI and dyslexic samples showed impaired discrimination of amplitude rise times. Implications of these findings for a temporal sampling framework for understanding developmental language disorders are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00791DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885376PMC
June 2016

Developmental trajectories for children with dyslexia and low IQ poor readers.

Dev Psychol 2016 05;52(5):717-34

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge.

Reading difficulties are found in children with both high and low IQ and it is now clear that both groups exhibit difficulties in phonological processing. Here, we apply the developmental trajectories approach, a new methodology developed for studying language and cognitive impairments in developmental disorders, to both poor reader groups. The trajectory methodology enables identification of atypical versus delayed development in datasets gathered using group matching designs. Regarding the cognitive predictors of reading, which here are phonological awareness, phonological short-term memory (PSTM) and rapid automatized naming (RAN), the method showed that trajectories for the two groups diverged markedly. Children with dyslexia showed atypical development in phonological awareness, while low IQ poor readers showed developmental delay. Low IQ poor readers showed atypical PSTM and RAN development, but children with dyslexia showed developmental delay. These divergent trajectories may have important ramifications for supporting each type of poor reader, although all poor readers showed weakness in all areas. Regarding auditory processing, the developmental trajectories were very similar for the two poor reader groups. However, children with dyslexia demonstrated developmental delay for auditory discrimination of Duration, while the low IQ children showed atypical development on this measure. The data show that, regardless of IQ, poor readers have developmental trajectories that differ from typically developing children. The trajectories approach enables differences in trajectory classification to be identified across poor reader group, as well as specifying the individual nature of these trajectories. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0040207DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843494PMC
May 2016

Awareness of Rhythm Patterns in Speech and Music in Children with Specific Language Impairments.

Front Hum Neurosci 2015 22;9:672. Epub 2015 Dec 22.

Department of Psychology, Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge Cambridge, UK.

Children with specific language impairments (SLIs) show impaired perception and production of language, and also show impairments in perceiving auditory cues to rhythm [amplitude rise time (ART) and sound duration] and in tapping to a rhythmic beat. Here we explore potential links between language development and rhythm perception in 45 children with SLI and 50 age-matched controls. We administered three rhythmic tasks, a musical beat detection task, a tapping-to-music task, and a novel music/speech task, which varied rhythm and pitch cues independently or together in both speech and music. Via low-pass filtering, the music sounded as though it was played from a low-quality radio and the speech sounded as though it was muffled (heard "behind the door"). We report data for all of the SLI children (N = 45, IQ varying), as well as for two independent subgroupings with intact IQ. One subgroup, "Pure SLI," had intact phonology and reading (N = 16), the other, "SLI PPR" (N = 15), had impaired phonology and reading. When IQ varied (all SLI children), we found significant group differences in all the rhythmic tasks. For the Pure SLI group, there were rhythmic impairments in the tapping task only. For children with SLI and poor phonology (SLI PPR), group differences were found in all of the filtered speech/music AXB tasks. We conclude that difficulties with rhythmic cues in both speech and music are present in children with SLIs, but that some rhythmic measures are more sensitive than others. The data are interpreted within a "prosodic phrasing" hypothesis, and we discuss the potential utility of rhythmic and musical interventions in remediating speech and language difficulties in children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00672DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4686839PMC
January 2016

Acoustic-Emergent Phonology in the Amplitude Envelope of Child-Directed Speech.

PLoS One 2015 7;10(12):e0144411. Epub 2015 Dec 7.

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

When acquiring language, young children may use acoustic spectro-temporal patterns in speech to derive phonological units in spoken language (e.g., prosodic stress patterns, syllables, phonemes). Children appear to learn acoustic-phonological mappings rapidly, without direct instruction, yet the underlying developmental mechanisms remain unclear. Across different languages, a relationship between amplitude envelope sensitivity and phonological development has been found, suggesting that children may make use of amplitude modulation (AM) patterns within the envelope to develop a phonological system. Here we present the Spectral Amplitude Modulation Phase Hierarchy (S-AMPH) model, a set of algorithms for deriving the dominant AM patterns in child-directed speech (CDS). Using Principal Components Analysis, we show that rhythmic CDS contains an AM hierarchy comprising 3 core modulation timescales. These timescales correspond to key phonological units: prosodic stress (Stress AM, ~2 Hz), syllables (Syllable AM, ~5 Hz) and onset-rime units (Phoneme AM, ~20 Hz). We argue that these AM patterns could in principle be used by naïve listeners to compute acoustic-phonological mappings without lexical knowledge. We then demonstrate that the modulation statistics within this AM hierarchy indeed parse the speech signal into a primitive hierarchically-organised phonological system comprising stress feet (proto-words), syllables and onset-rime units. We apply the S-AMPH model to two other CDS corpora, one spontaneous and one deliberately-timed. The model accurately identified 72-82% (freely-read CDS) and 90-98% (rhythmically-regular CDS) stress patterns, syllables and onset-rime units. This in-principle demonstration that primitive phonology can be extracted from speech AMs is termed Acoustic-Emergent Phonology (AEP) theory. AEP theory provides a set of methods for examining how early phonological development is shaped by the temporal modulation structure of speech across languages. The S-AMPH model reveals a crucial developmental role for stress feet (AMs ~2 Hz). Stress feet underpin different linguistic rhythm typologies, and speech rhythm underpins language acquisition by infants in all languages.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0144411PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4671555PMC
June 2016

Basic auditory processing and sensitivity to prosodic structure in children with specific language impairments: a new look at a perceptual hypothesis.

Front Psychol 2015 10;6:972. Epub 2015 Jul 10.

Department of Psychology, Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge Cambridge, UK.

Children with specific language impairments (SLIs) show impaired perception and production of spoken language, and can also present with motor, auditory, and phonological difficulties. Recent auditory studies have shown impaired sensitivity to amplitude rise time (ART) in children with SLIs, along with non-speech rhythmic timing difficulties. Linguistically, these perceptual impairments should affect sensitivity to speech prosody and syllable stress. Here we used two tasks requiring sensitivity to prosodic structure, the DeeDee task and a stress misperception task, to investigate this hypothesis. We also measured auditory processing of ART, rising pitch and sound duration, in both speech ("ba") and non-speech (tone) stimuli. Participants were 45 children with SLI aged on average 9 years and 50 age-matched controls. We report data for all the SLI children (N = 45, IQ varying), as well as for two independent SLI subgroupings with intact IQ. One subgroup, "Pure SLI," had intact phonology and reading (N = 16), the other, "SLI PPR" (N = 15), had impaired phonology and reading. Problems with syllable stress and prosodic structure were found for all the group comparisons. Both sub-groups with intact IQ showed reduced sensitivity to ART in speech stimuli, but the PPR subgroup also showed reduced sensitivity to sound duration in speech stimuli. Individual differences in processing syllable stress were associated with auditory processing. These data support a new hypothesis, the "prosodic phrasing" hypothesis, which proposes that grammatical difficulties in SLI may reflect perceptual difficulties with global prosodic structure related to auditory impairments in processing amplitude rise time and duration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00972DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4498019PMC
July 2015

Auditory Processing in Specific Language Impairment (SLI): Relations With the Perception of Lexical and Phrasal Stress.

J Speech Lang Hear Res 2015 Aug;58(4):1292-305

Purpose: We investigated whether impaired acoustic processing is a factor in developmental language disorders. The amplitude envelope of the speech signal is known to be important in language processing. We examined whether impaired perception of amplitude envelope rise time is related to impaired perception of lexical and phrasal stress in children with specific language impairment (SLI).

Method: Twenty-two children aged between 8 and 12 years participated in this study. Twelve had SLI; 10 were typically developing controls. All children completed psychoacoustic tasks measuring rise time, intensity, frequency, and duration discrimination. They also completed 2 linguistic stress tasks measuring lexical and phrasal stress perception.

Results: The SLI group scored significantly below the typically developing controls on both stress perception tasks. Performance on stress tasks correlated with individual differences in auditory sensitivity. Rise time and frequency thresholds accounted for the most unique variance. Digit Span also contributed to task success for the SLI group.

Conclusions: The SLI group had difficulties with both acoustic and stress perception tasks. Our data suggest that poor sensitivity to amplitude rise time and sound frequency significantly contributes to the stress perception skills of children with SLI. Other cognitive factors such as phonological memory are also implicated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-13-0306DOI Listing
August 2015

Visual attention span deficits and assessing causality in developmental dyslexia.

Authors:
Usha Goswami

Nat Rev Neurosci 2015 Apr;16(4):225

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EB, UK.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrn3836-c2DOI Listing
April 2015

The neural basis of dyslexia may originate in primary auditory cortex.

Authors:
Usha Goswami

Brain 2014 Dec;137(Pt 12):3100-2

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK E-mail:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awu296DOI Listing
December 2014

Sensory theories of developmental dyslexia: three challenges for research.

Authors:
Usha Goswami

Nat Rev Neurosci 2015 01 5;16(1):43-54. Epub 2014 Nov 5.

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.

Recent years have seen the publication of a range of new theories suggesting that the basis of dyslexia might be sensory dysfunction. In this Opinion article, the evidence for and against several prominent sensory theories of dyslexia is closely scrutinized. Contrary to the causal claims being made, my analysis suggests that many proposed sensory deficits might result from the effects of reduced reading experience on the dyslexic brain. I therefore suggest that longitudinal studies of sensory processing, beginning in infancy, are required to successfully identify the neural basis of developmental dyslexia. Such studies could have a powerful impact on remediation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrn3836DOI Listing
January 2015

Auditory temporal processing skills in musicians with dyslexia.

Dyslexia 2014 Aug;20(3):261-79

International Music Education Research Centre, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK.

The core cognitive difficulty in developmental dyslexia involves phonological processing, but adults and children with dyslexia also have sensory impairments. Impairments in basic auditory processing show particular links with phonological impairments, and recent studies with dyslexic children across languages reveal a relationship between auditory temporal processing and sensitivity to rhythmic timing and speech rhythm. As rhythm is explicit in music, musical training might have a beneficial effect on the auditory perception of acoustic cues to rhythm in dyslexia. Here we took advantage of the presence of musicians with and without dyslexia in musical conservatoires, comparing their auditory temporal processing abilities with those of dyslexic non-musicians matched for cognitive ability. Musicians with dyslexia showed equivalent auditory sensitivity to musicians without dyslexia and also showed equivalent rhythm perception. The data support the view that extensive rhythmic experience initiated during childhood (here in the form of music training) can affect basic auditory processing skills which are found to be deficient in individuals with dyslexia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dys.1479DOI Listing
August 2014

A role for amplitude modulation phase relationships in speech rhythm perception.

J Acoust Soc Am 2014 Jul;136(1):366-81

Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, United Kingdom.

Prosodic rhythm in speech [the alternation of "Strong" (S) and "weak" (w) syllables] is cued, among others, by slow rates of amplitude modulation (AM) within the speech envelope. However, it is unclear exactly which envelope modulation rates and statistics are the most important for the rhythm percept. Here, the hypothesis that the phase relationship between "Stress" rate (∼2 Hz) and "Syllable" rate (∼4 Hz) AMs provides a perceptual cue for speech rhythm is tested. In a rhythm judgment task, adult listeners identified AM tone-vocoded nursery rhyme sentences that carried either trochaic (S-w) or iambic patterning (w-S). Manipulation of listeners' rhythm perception was attempted by parametrically phase-shifting the Stress AM and Syllable AM in the vocoder. It was expected that a 1π radian phase-shift (half a cycle) would reverse the perceived rhythm pattern (i.e., trochaic → iambic) whereas a 2π radian shift (full cycle) would retain the perceived rhythm pattern (i.e., trochaic → trochaic). The results confirmed these predictions. Listeners judgments of rhythm systematically followed Stress-Syllable AM phase-shifts, but were unaffected by phase-shifts between the Syllable AM and the Sub-beat AM (∼14 Hz) in a control condition. It is concluded that the Stress-Syllable AM phase relationship is an envelope-based modulation statistic that supports speech rhythm perception.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4883366DOI Listing
July 2014

Impaired extraction of speech rhythm from temporal modulation patterns in speech in developmental dyslexia.

Front Hum Neurosci 2014 24;8:96. Epub 2014 Feb 24.

Department of Psychology, Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge Cambridge, UK.

Dyslexia is associated with impaired neural representation of the sound structure of words (phonology). The "phonological deficit" in dyslexia may arise in part from impaired speech rhythm perception, thought to depend on neural oscillatory phase-locking to slow amplitude modulation (AM) patterns in the speech envelope. Speech contains AM patterns at multiple temporal rates, and these different AM rates are associated with phonological units of different grain sizes, e.g., related to stress, syllables or phonemes. Here, we assess the ability of adults with dyslexia to use speech AMs to identify rhythm patterns (RPs). We study 3 important temporal rates: "Stress" (~2 Hz), "Syllable" (~4 Hz) and "Sub-beat" (reduced syllables, ~14 Hz). 21 dyslexics and 21 controls listened to nursery rhyme sentences that had been tone-vocoded using either single AM rates from the speech envelope (Stress only, Syllable only, Sub-beat only) or pairs of AM rates (Stress + Syllable, Syllable + Sub-beat). They were asked to use the acoustic rhythm of the stimulus to identity the original nursery rhyme sentence. The data showed that dyslexics were significantly poorer at detecting rhythm compared to controls when they had to utilize multi-rate temporal information from pairs of AMs (Stress + Syllable or Syllable + Sub-beat). These data suggest that dyslexia is associated with a reduced ability to utilize AMs <20 Hz for rhythm recognition. This perceptual deficit in utilizing AM patterns in speech could be underpinned by less efficient neuronal phase alignment and cross-frequency neuronal oscillatory synchronization in dyslexia. Dyslexics' perceptual difficulties in capturing the full spectro-temporal complexity of speech over multiple timescales could contribute to the development of impaired phonological representations for words, the cognitive hallmark of dyslexia across languages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00096DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3932665PMC
March 2014

Neural entrainment to rhythmic speech in children with developmental dyslexia.

Front Hum Neurosci 2013 27;7:777. Epub 2013 Nov 27.

Department of Psychology, Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge Cambridgeshire, UK.

A rhythmic paradigm based on repetition of the syllable "ba" was used to study auditory, visual, and audio-visual oscillatory entrainment to speech in children with and without dyslexia using EEG. Children pressed a button whenever they identified a delay in the isochronous stimulus delivery (500 ms; 2 Hz delta band rate). Response power, strength of entrainment and preferred phase of entrainment in the delta and theta frequency bands were compared between groups. The quality of stimulus representation was also measured using cross-correlation of the stimulus envelope with the neural response. The data showed a significant group difference in the preferred phase of entrainment in the delta band in response to the auditory and audio-visual stimulus streams. A different preferred phase has significant implications for the quality of speech information that is encoded neurally, as it implies enhanced neuronal processing (phase alignment) at less informative temporal points in the incoming signal. Consistent with this possibility, the cross-correlogram analysis revealed superior stimulus representation by the control children, who showed a trend for larger peak r-values and significantly later lags in peak r-values compared to participants with dyslexia. Significant relationships between both peak r-values and peak lags were found with behavioral measures of reading. The data indicate that the auditory temporal reference frame for speech processing is atypical in developmental dyslexia, with low frequency (delta) oscillations entraining to a different phase of the rhythmic syllabic input. This would affect the quality of encoding of speech, and could underlie the cognitive impairments in phonological representation that are the behavioral hallmark of this developmental disorder across languages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00777DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842021PMC
December 2013