Developmental plasticity of neuronal representations and processes in speech recognition as a function of phonological awareness
Projektleitung: Dr. Claudia K. Friedrich
Projektmitarbeit: Ulrike Schild
Finanzierung: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SPP1234; FR 2519/1-1)
In this project we will investigate the developmental plasticity of neuronal representations and processes in human speech recognition. We will focus on lexical development as a function of phonological awareness and of the acquisition of reading and writing skills in childhood. The assumption that lexical representations are underspecified for certain features within the speech signal received support from previous research with adult listeners. Nevertheless, we previously also found that spoken word processing is modulated by phoneme-like information. Here we assume that featurally underspecified lexical entries are basic types of representations in human speech acquisition. We propose that phonological awareness, a fundamental skill required for literacy acquisition, modulates this featurally based processing. This might be reflected in an additional phonemic processing format in speech recognition. Effects of phonological awareness and alphabetic learning on neuronal speech comprehension will be tested by means of brain potentials recorded in word fragment priming in (i) preschool children, (ii) beginning readers, and (iii) adults. Preschool children – at least those with poor phonological awareness - should show evidence for underspecified recognition only. For beginning readers we may find additional phoneme level processes that are comparable to the adult pattern in speech comprehension.