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Psychology in the News

Hay, Newnam Receive NICHD Grant

Kathy Newnam, assistant professor of nursing, and Jessica Hay, associate professor of psychology, received a three-year, $451,772 R15 grant title "Directed Language as a Useful Predictor of Speech Processing Efficiency and Vocabulary Development in Preterm Infants” from NICHD.

The professors seek to study the effects of directed language input on developmental outcomes in very low birth weight (VLBW) preterm infants, born at 24-26 weeks of gestation. This is at a critical stage of structural and functional auditory development, and yet, infants are typically housed in a suboptimal auditory environment. Through longitudinal design, the team of UT College of Nursing and Department of Psychology student and faculty researchers aim to determine if the timing and frequency of direct language exposure during critical periods of auditory development are associated with improved biophysical markers of health during hospitalization in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and with subsequent speech processing efficiency (SLE), vocabulary size and Bayley III developmental scores. Results of this study will provide new scientific knowledge to support possible interventions including proving the preterm population with early and frequent exposure to language as a method to improve neurodevelopmental outcomes.

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