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Can rhythmic stimulation benefit verbal memory?

Can rhythmic stimulation benefit verbal memory?

Presenter Name:Bre-Anna Owusu

School/Affiliation:McMaster University

Co-Authors:Elisabet Service


Performance in grammar judgment tasks and memory for new words are poorer in dyslexic children compared to typical readers. Previous research has demonstrated that regular musical rhythmic primes can benefit subsequent grammar processing in children with dyslexia. Rhythms with regular, predictable beats orient listeners’ attention over time—facilitating predictive cognitive processing. To test the presence of a rhythm attending effect on verbal memory in dyslexic children, we adapted the methodology of a rhythmic-priming paradigm. In our procedure, the child first listened to either a predictable beat (32 s) or an environmental sound scene (30 s). They then heard a spoken sentence containing a pseudoword at the end. Their first task was to decide whether the spoken sentence was grammatical or ungrammatical. Following grammar judgements and a distractor task, participants were asked if they recognized pseudowords presented in the spoken sentences. Benefits from rhythmic priming to pseudoword recognition or grammaticality judgements could not be detected when a verbal memory component had been added to the task. Surprisingly, grammaticality judgements were significantly poorer for all children after listening to a regular, predictable rhythm compared to the baseline environmental sound scene prime. Comparison of the results to previous data, suggest that the addition of a memory component may have interfered with the regular prime benefit to language processing and potentially created a dual-task condition.


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