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Centre for Neuroscience in Education


Yidan Project

Neural Mechanisms underpinning Developmental Language Disorders (DLD): An Oscillatory Hierarchical “Temporal Sampling” Approach

In 2019 Professor Usha Goswami received the prestigious Yidan Prize for Education Research from the Yidan Prize Foundation. The Yidan Project Fund will be used for a dedicated neuroimaging investigation of developmental language disorder (DLD), a disorder where a child’s language fails to develop along normal lines for no obvious reason. There is a pressing need for better understanding of this prevalent problem, which affects 15 million children worldwide. By leveraging Usha Goswami’s current neuroimaging projects in infant language acquisition and developmental dyslexia, there are significant opportunities for major advances now.

The project will identify impairments in DLD concerning the underlying neural mechanisms for language, by applying our research methods from dyslexia. Our behavioural research has identified a number of similarities in impairments in acoustic processing between children with DLD and children with dyslexia. Our psychoacoustic data for DLD indicate difficulties in perceiving prosodic phrasing. Perceptually, prosodic phrasing depends on a set of acoustic statistics that have been identified in our infant research.

The Yidan project will examine neural alignment to these and other sets of acoustic statistics by the DLD brain. Participating primary school children will also receive short, game-like tasks to assess their listening skills, and their language, reading, memory and attention skills. Their automatic brain responses in different listening tasks will also be assessed, using two specialist, non-invasive methods, EEG and MEG.

If we can identify the underlying neural cause(s) of DLD, then simple changes worldwide to carer-infant language routines and clinical speech and language therapies could help reduce DLD, which affects around 7% of children in every culture. 


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Project Investigator

Professor Usha Goswami, FBA

Staff Members

Dr Susan Richards

Mahmoud Keshavarzi 

Joao Fonseca De Araujo

Further Information