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School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences - The University of Texas at Dallas

Susan Jerger


Susan Jerger

Professor Emeritus


PhD, Baylor College of Medicine

Multimodal Speech Processing, Lexical Development in Children with Normal Hearing or Hearing Loss


GR 4.116

972-883-2268 phone email


Children's Speech Processing Lab website
















About Susan Jerger


My primary academic position as of September, 1997, is Ashbel Smith Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas. I am also a Research Professor, Department of Otolaryngology-HNS, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri. Previously I served as a Professor, Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; as an Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, Rice University, Houston; as an Affiliated Professor, Center for Human Development Research, School of Medicine, University of Texas-Houston; and as an external faculty member, University of Hong Kong. My long-term research interest concerns the influence of childhood hearing impairment (HI) on development of the auditory, phonological, and semantic knowledge supporting spoken word recognition. My current research, which applies a newly developed picture naming-auditory word distractor task, is studying the nature of phonological and semantic representations, and the time course of their activation, during word processing by typically developing children and children with HI. We hypothesize that HI degrades and filters auditory input, impairing the registration of some childhood experiences in semantic memory and phonological memory. This results in 1) less well-specified phonological representation, 2) less rich semantic categorical knowledge, and 3) slower and less efficient processing. Understanding the dynamics of the speech processing system in children should lead to improved intervention strategies, expanding social, educational, and vocational opportunities for children with HI.


Research Interests


My research focuses on children with mild-severe sensorineural hearing losses who often use hearing aids and spoken language as their primary mode of communication. The degree of success in understanding speech varies widely in these children, however, even in those with the same degree and configuration of hearing loss. To attempt to understand these real-life differences in spoken word recognition, our program of research addresses some of the auditory perceptual, linguistic, and cognitive processes underlying speech comprehension. My current research projects focus on a range of issues concerned with how differences in auditory experience and quality of auditory input affect the development of speech processing at different levels of abstraction.


Recent Publications


Jerger, S., Damian, M., Mills, C., Bartlett, J., Tye-Murray, N. and Abdi, H. (2013). Effect of Perceptual Load on Semantic Access by Speech in Children. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, 56(2):388-403. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0186


Jerger, S., Damian, M., Spence, M., Tye-Murray, N., & Abdi, H. (2009). Developmental shifts in children's sensitivity to visual speech: A new multimodal picture word task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102, 40-59.


Jerger, S., Tye-Murray, N., & Abdi, H. (2009). The role of visual speech in phonological processing by children with hearing loss. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, 52, 412-434.


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