Master of Science
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Previous research has suggested a relationship between auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) and spoken language proficiency, but their interactions during the earliest stages of development are not well understood. AEP-Age, an index that estimates the maturity of a child’s AEP relative to same-aged peers, has been effective in investigating this relationship in school-aged children, but has yet to be applied to younger populations. This thesis includes two Stage 1 Manuscripts (Registered Reports) for future studies to (a) assess the utility of AEP-Age to predict chronological age and language ability in 18-48-month-old children, and (b) investigate the relationship between AEP-Age and language ability longitudinally in children with three different trajectories (children with typical development, late talkers who resolve, and children with persistent developmental language disorder). This thesis sets the stage for a new line of research examining the role of AEP maturation in the earliest stages of typical and atypical language development.
Summary for Lay Audience
Past research demonstrates a relationship between our brain’s response to sound, called auditory evoked potentials (AEPs), and language abilities. AEPs can be captured as a waveform using electroencephalography (EEG), and like our language skills, have been shown to mature and change as we age. A newly developed index called AEP-Age has been shown to successfully estimate auditory brain maturity in school-aged children. To collect a child’s AEP, EEG records brain responses to a simple tone over 5 minutes, then these responses are compared to overall averages of AEP responses from groups of children of different ages. Recent research has shown that AEP maturity (captured using AEP-Age) is related to language proficiency in school-age children with typical and atypical language development.
This thesis includes two papers that provide a detailed plan for two future studies that will validating the use of AEP-Age in toddlers. The first of the two papers describes a study that will examine groups of children at different ages between 18 and 48 months old in order to create average AEP responses for each age group assessing whether AEP-Age is a good measure in children this young. The second paper describes a study that will follow a group of children from the age of 18 months to the age of 48 months. This study will investigate the relationship between AEP-Age and language ability in children with three different developmental trajectories (children with typical development, late talkers whose difficulties resolve, and children with persistent developmental language disorder). Together, these studies set the stage for a new line of research examining auditory maturity in the earliest stages of typical and atypical language development.
Janes, Alyssa, "Approaches to examining the role of auditory evoked potentials in early language development" (2022). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8360.