Reading and writing are two of the most important cultural achievements and therefore essential skills in today’s world. Through these skills, knowledge is collected and handed down from generation to generation and the acquisition of reading and writing competencies is a major task for today’s schools.
For the successful achievement of this task, various training programs have been developed. These programs aim at training certain linguistic competencies such as vocabulary enlargement or phonological awareness. The Transfer Center for Neurosciences and Learning in Ulm is investigating the effectiveness of three such training programs: one is designed to train vocabulary enlargement, the second to train phonological awareness and the third to train perceptions, which are necessary for the acquisition of written language. In addition, a test called a “differentiation probe”, which screens for deficits in different perceptional performance, will be evaluated. The aim of this evaluation is to find out whether the differentiation probe is really correlated with later competencies in reading and writing and is able to predict success in reading and writing.
While most students are relatively quick to learn the alphabet and to read and write their first words correctly, some children fail to develop these skills, even though they have adequate physical and cognitive capacities and are sufficiently well taught. This phenomenon is called dyslexia. Dyslexic children might, for example, mix up and invert letters (b-d, p-q), insert letters or parts of another word into a word, shorten words, etc.
What is the reason for this deficit? And how can it be overcome? Transfer Center researchers are trying to find answers to these questions. To this end, they are examining the neurobiological underpinnings of processes involved in reading and writing in dyslexic and normal children, as well as therapies for dyslexia. On the neurobiological side, they are investigating the neurobiological correlates of working memory and auditive, phonological and visual processing in dyslexic children compared to normal children. As regards therapies, they are investigating the efficacy of computer-based tools, such as CASPAR (Computer-assisted Speech Processing Assessment and Remediation) and AUDILEX.