SLHS5900: Topics in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

This graduate-level seminar is devoted to the topic “Cracking the speech code: The development of speech perception in typical and atypical populations.”

The objectives of the course are to: 1) become knowledgeable about theory and research relevant to infant speech perception and early language development from multiple perspectives; 2) develop skills to compare, critique and develop hypothesis-driven research in this area; and 3) consider the role of research evidence from normal and clinical populations in informing programs and policies that affect young children and their families.

This seminar course provides a forum to evaluate and discuss theoretical perspectives, clinical issues and experimental evidence concerning the developmental milestones as well as challenges in the process of cracking the speech code early in life. In order to comprehend and produce a spoken language, an infant must develop the necessary perceptual skills to extract linguistic structures in both form and meaning from the continuously varying speech signal in a complex acoustic environment. Over the past forty years, there have been a number of exciting discoveries about the development of infants’ perceptual, cognitive, and motor skills that are integral and essential to their language development. Reading materials will cover selected review articles as well as original research using behavioral and brain measures from a variety of sources. Research studies on both typically developing and atypical populations will be evaluated with respect to theories of language acquisition, including children with autism, dyslexia, and hearing loss. Clinical issues and implications for research and practice will be discussed under a theoretical framework that integrates behavioral, cognitive, neural and evolutionary perspectives.

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