Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Letitia Naigles, Erika Skoe, Marie Coppola, Deborah Fein

Field of Study

Psychological Sciences


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


Syntactic, semantic, and phonological knowledge are vital aspects of macro level language ability. Prior research has focused on environmental or cortical sources of individual differences in these areas. Subcortical contributions of the auditory brainstem have also been found to contribute to language ability in both typically developing (TD) populations and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study investigates whether one aspect of auditory brainstem responses (ABRs), response stability, a metric of the variability of instance to instance neural encoding of sound, can predict syntactic, semantic, and phonological performance in TD and ASD school-aged children. This study further investigates the degree to which phonological discrimination serves as a moderator of any relationship found between /da/ stability and syntax and semantics. Results showed that higher /da/ stability was associated with better phonological discrimination and syntactic performance in both TD and ASD children. Furthermore, phonological discrimination was a successful mediator of the relationship between /da/ stability and syntactic performance. This study supports the growing body of literature that stable subcortical neural encoding of sound is important for language development.

Major Advisor

Letitia Naigles