Dyslexia, Rhythm, Language and the Developing Brain

An overview on recent neuroscience studies investigating how the brain encodes speech

  • Mon 31st Oct 2022

Recent insights from auditory neuroscience provide a new perspective on how the brain encodes speech. Using these recent insights, I will provide an overview of key factors underpinning individual differences in children’s development of language and phonology, providing a context for exploring atypical reading development (dyslexia). Children with dyslexia are relatively insensitive to acoustic cues related to speech rhythm patterns. This lack of rhythmic sensitivity is related to the atypical neural encoding of rhythm patterns in speech by the brain. I will describe our current research-based interventions that aim to ameliorate these rhythmic difficulties.

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Professor Usha Goswami, CBE FRS FBA, Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge

Usha Goswami CBE FRS FBA is Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge. She is also founding Director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education. After training as a primary school teacher, Usha decided to pursue research in child psychology, taking a D. Phil. in Psychology at the University of Oxford focused on reading development. Most recently, Usha has been studying the neural mechanisms underpinning language encoding, and relationships to the rhythmic structure of infant- and child-directed speech. Her research goal is to understand the brain basis of dyslexia and speech and language difficulties, and the potential utility of assistive listening technology, coupled with music- and rhythm-based behavioural interventions.

She has received a number of career awards, including the British Psychology Society’s Spearman Medal and President’s Award; the Aspen Brain Forum Senior Investigator Prize in Neuroeducation, New York Academy of Sciences; the Norman Geschwind-Rodin Prize for Dyslexia research, Sweden; the Yidan Prize for Education Research, Hong Kong; and Research Fellowships from the National Academy of Education (USA), the Leverhulme Trust (UK), and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany). Usha Goswami was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s New Years Honours List in 2021.

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The lecture will be preceded by a short presentation from a CSAR PhD Student Award Winner.

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