הפקולטה לחינוך מברכת את ד׳׳ר יפית גבאי מהחוג לחינוך מיוחד ופרופ׳ אבי קרני מהחוג ללקויות למידה על זכייתם יחד עם פרופ׳ לורי הולט מאוניברסיטת קרנגי מלון בארה׳׳ב, במענק מכובד של קרן ה- (NSF-BSF (National Science Foundation and the Binational Science Foundation. המענק ניתן למחקר תחת הקטגוריה Auditory Category Learning למשך תקופה של 4 שנים.
Even in a country like the United States, the economic and societal costs of low literacy are enormous. It is thus critical to understand the cognitive building blocks supporting literacy. As a culturally-acquired skill, literacy depends on learning. But, we do not yet adequately understand learning mechanisms that support literacy, or how they may fail in low literacy. We do know that low literacy is not isolated to limitations in learning written language. Instead, low literacy is associated with learning challenges extending broadly to other aspects of language. In this context, the research team has discovered a connection between low literacy and impairments in domain-general learning of nonlinguistic auditory categories in incidental tasks that do not require overt category decisions. This suggests an innovative approach to uncovering the building blocks of literacy through the study of how listeners learn auditory perceptual categories in incidental training tasks. A strong foundation of prior work supports the approach, but it has not yet been investigated in childhood across a period of literacy acquisition, in languages other than English, or across consolidation and retention of learning. This project forms a US-Israeli research team with cross-cutting expertise to fill these gaps, with the objective of characterizing incidental auditory category learning and its relationship to literacy. The project will examine incidental auditory category learning (1) among children who are in earlier and later stages of literacy acquisition, in two languages that differ in their orthographic-phonemic transparency; (2) in the context of procedural learning impairments in developmental dyslexia, among both children and adults; (3) across periods of offline learning to characterize consolidation and retention as novel behavioral measures. Examining online and offline incidental auditory category learning across distinct samples varying in literacy attainment, age, native language, and procedural learning impairment will advance understanding of the basic building blocks of literacy.