Beat synchronization predicts neural speech encoding and reading readiness in preschoolers

Kali Woodruff Carr, Travis White-Schwoch, Adam T. Tierney, Dana L. Strait, Nina Kraus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Temporal cues are important for discerning word boundaries and syllable segments in speech; their perception facilitates language acquisition and development. Beat synchronization and neural encoding of speech reflect precision in processing temporal cues and have been linked to reading skills. In poor readers, diminished neural precision may contribute to rhythmic and phonological deficits. Here we establish links between beat synchronization and speech processing in children who have not yet begun to read: preschoolers who can entrain to an external beat have more faithful neural encoding of temporal modulations in speech and score higher on tests of early language skills. In summary, we propose precise neural encoding of temporal modulations as a key mechanism underlying reading acquisition. Because beat synchronization abilities emerge at an early age, these findings may inform strategies for early detection of and intervention for languagebased learning disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14559-14564
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 7 2014


  • Auditory processing
  • CABR
  • Rhythm
  • Speech envelope
  • Temporal processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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