Temporal processing in the literate brain
Abstract. Developmental deficits affecting speech perception increases the risk for language and literacy problems with lowered academic and occupational attainment. Both normal development and disorders of speech perception have been linked to temporospectral auditory processing speed. Understanding the role of dynamic auditory processing in speech perception has led to the development of neuroplasticity-based intervention strategies aimed at ameliorating speech perceptual deficits and their sequalae. The fundamental building blocks of all languages are the phonemes (speech sounds) out of which words are built. These are unique to each language and are learned by young infants from environmental exposure to the native language(s). How phonemes come to be represented in the brain, and specifically the important role that spectrotemporal acoustic processing and neuroplasticity play in early phonological, and subsequent language and literacy development, will be the focus of this talk. Data derived from behavioral, physiological and neuroimaging studies of normal as well as language learning impaired children will be presented that demonstrate that individual differences in the speed and precision of spectrotemporal processing of complex acoustic signals (including speech) have a significant effect on language and literacy development. In addition, physiological cellular mapping studies of auditory cortex in animals will be presented to demonstrate the effect acoustic environment plays in mapping complex acoustic stimuli . Finally, translational research studies using behavioral and neuroimaging approaches will be presented to demonstrate how basic research on language development and disorders has been coupled with basic research on neuroplasticity to improve academic outcomes in struggling learners.