Ontogenetic language development, especially speech perception
Speech perception as a function of reading skills
Phoneme and prosody processing in blind persons
Methods: EEG, NIRS, eye-tracking, behavioral data (reaction times, finger-tracking)
2015 - 2018 "Hören oder Sehen? Welche Faktoren des Lesenlernens führen zu detaillierterer phonologischer Verarbeitung? Eine Trainingsstudie mit Vorschülern." (Hearing or seeing? Which factors of literacy acquisition lead to more detailed phonological processing? A training study with preschoolers), supported by the DFG:
Summery: Reading children appear to use more phonological detail of the speech stream than pre-readers. The question emerges which aspects of speech processing are refined in readers compared to pre-readers. When children learn to read and write, they not only learn to manipulate sounds and thereby train their knowledge about the sound structure of words. They also learn the correspondence between phonemes and graphemes. The core aim of the proposed training study is to unravel which of these two factors leads to the refinement of phonological representations in readers compared to pre-readers. The study is based on the assumption of bidirectional links between speech sound representations and grapheme representations in readers. It is hypothesized that those bidirectional links are fundamental for the more detailed processing of speech in readers compared to pre-readers. Three groups of preschoolers will be tested. One group will receive phonological training (phonological only training). Another group will receive phonological training and letter knowledge training (phonological and orthographic training). A third group will receive a training of early math skills (control group). If phonological training alone is sufficient to refine phonological processing, both groups receiving phonological training should use more phonological detail compared to the control group. If graphemes are needed to refine phonological processing, the phonological and orthographic training group should use more phonological detail compared to the phonological only training group. Use of phonological detail will be measured by means of brain potentials recorded in word onset priming. In two follow-up tests at the end of first and second grade it will be tested whether (i) phonological processing is continuously refined through formal reading instruction, and (ii) whether later reading proficiency is mediated by phonological training alone or whether there is an additional benefit from earlier acquired grapheme-phoneme links. On the one hand, the findings will contribute to our understanding of the architecture of speech processing and its links to written language processing. On the other hand, the findings will have practical implications for the debate on efficient training of early reading and writing skills in German-speaking children.