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News contact: Steve McGregor, UTD, (972) 883-2293, smcgreg@utdallas.edu

UTD’s Susan Jerger Wins $1.78 Million NIH Grant
To Study Word Development in Children

Improved Intervention Strategies Sought for Those With Hearing Loss

Dr. Susan W. Jerger, Ashbel Smith Professor of communications sciencesRICHARDSON, Texas (July 24, 2003) - Dr. Susan W. Jerger, Ashbel Smith Professor of communications sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), has been awarded a five-year, $1.78-million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research into how "mental dictionaries" develop in both normal and hard-of-hearing children.

Jerger will be assisted in the work by co-investigator Dr. Nancy Tye-Murray of the Washington University School of Medicine and the Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) in St. Louis, Mo.

"Words are the building blocks of language," said Jerger. "To communicate, children must learn the meanings - semantic knowledge - and names - phonological knowledge - of words. By joining together the resources of UTD and CID, we have a unique opportunity to advance understanding of how semantic and phonological knowledge develop, ultimately leading to improved intervention strategies and opportunities for children with hearing loss."

According to Jerger, spoken communication provides the foundation for word learning in young children, raising the issue of how children with hearing loss compensate. Using a cross-modal picture-word procedure developed by Jerger, Randi Martin, Ph.D., Rice University, and Marcus Damian, Ph.D., University of Bristol, Jerger will test normal hearing children at UTD while Tye-Murray will test children with hearing loss at CID.

When the research is completed, the scientists expect to have a better understanding of the nature of semantic and phonological knowledge, the dynamics of speech processing and the role of auditory input in speech-language development. It is hoped the knowledge will lead to improved intervention strategies, helping to expand social, educational and vocational opportunities for children with hearing loss.

The new grant runs through 2008, marking 19 years of continuous funding of Jerger's work by NIH.

Jerger is a member of the faculty of UTD's School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, formerly called Human Development, and director of the school's Children's Speech Processing Laboratory. She holds a Ph.D. degree in audiology and bioacoustics from Baylor College of Medicine. Her research interests include speech and auditory processing and auditory disorders.

About UTD
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 13,000 students. The school's freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university's Web site at http://www.utdallas.edu.


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August 03, 2013