Charles Hulme's research while affiliated with Australian Catholic University and other places

Publications (301)

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Oral language skills are critical for psychosocial development and children with language difficulties are more likely than peers to experience behavioral problems. This study investigated the effects of an oral language intervention on behavioral adjustment. We collected teacher ratings of behavioral adjustment for 1173 children taking part in a c...
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Fine motor skills and executive function are two examples of domain-general skills. Both are correlates of arithmetic and reading ability, and have been identified as predictors of school readiness. Little research has simultaneously assessed the influence of both these skills as predictors of academic abilities. Current evidence suggests their rol...
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Developmental language disorder (DLD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions, yet is chronically underserved, with far fewer children receiving clinical services than expected from prevalence estimates, and very little research attention relative to other neurodevelopmental conditions of similar prevalence and severity. This editor...
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Background: There is now substantial evidence that language interventions delivered to small groups can be effective for improving language skills and hence strengthening the foundation for formal schooling. However, there are remaining challenges when delivering such interventions in naturalistic environments at scale. Method: We reflect on three...
Preprint
Worldwide, the majority of people prefer using the right hand for most motor tasks. Because of the link between handedness and language hemispheric dominance, handedness has been studied for association with language-related disorders. No clear pattern has emerged from these studies, and inconsistencies have been attributed to small sample sizes, p...
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Children with language learning difficulties frequently display problems learning grammar. One such group are children with Down syndrome. This study evaluates the effectiveness of an intervention to teach the use of the regular simple past tense to children with Down syndrome. Trained teaching assistants delivered the intervention for 20 minutes p...
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The use of spoken and written language is a capacity that is unique to humans. Individual differences in reading- and language-related skills are influenced by genetic variation, with twin-based heritability estimates of 30-80%, depending on the trait. The relevant genetic architecture is complex, heterogeneous, and multifactorial, and yet to be in...
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Morphemes, the smallest meaning-bearing units of language, recur in many words. Therefore, morphological knowledge can facilitate the comprehension of novel words. This study tested the effectiveness of a morphological training program on children’s learning and retention of exposed words and morphologically related unexposed words compared with an...
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Background: Stuttering, or stammering as it is referred to in some countries, affects a child's ability to speak fluently. It is a common communication disorder, affecting 11% of children by four years of age. Stuttering can be characterized by sound, part word or whole word repetitions, sound prolongations, or blocking of sounds or airflow. Momen...
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There is evidence that early variations in the development of an approximate number system (ANS) and symbolic number understanding are both influences on the later development of formal arithmetic skills. We report a large-scale (N = 552) longitudinal study of the predictors of arithmetic spanning a critical developmental period (the first 3 years...
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Visual information conveyed by a speaking face aids speech perception. In addition, children's ability to comprehend visual-only speech (speechreading ability) is related to phonological awareness and reading skills in both deaf and hearing children. We tested whether training speechreading would improve speechreading, phoneme blending, and reading...
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Impaired procedural learning has been suggested as a possible cause of developmental dyslexia (DD) and developmental language disorder (DLD). We evaluate this theory by performing a series of meta-analyses on evidence from the six procedural learning tasks that have most commonly been used to test this theory: the serial reaction time, Hebb learnin...
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At least 5% of children present unexpected difficulties in expressing and understanding spoken language. This condition is highly heritable and often co-occurs with other neurodevelopmental disorders such as dyslexia and ADHD. Through an exome sequencing analysis, we identified a rare missense variant (chr16:84405221, GRCh38.p12) in the ATP2C2 gene...
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Background: It is well established that oral language skills provide a critical foundation for formal education. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) programme in ameliorating language difficulties in the first year of school when delivered at scale. Methods: We conducted a cluster randomized...
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Disorders of reading and mathematics co-occur at greater than chance rates, but they are often studied separately. This article reports the reading and arithmetic outcomes at 9 years of age from a longitudinal study of 224 children at high risk for dyslexia. Using a cutoff at the 10th centile, groups of children with reading disorder (RD), mathemat...
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At least 5% of children present unexpected difficulties in expressing and understanding spoken language. This condition is highly heritable and often co-occurs with other neurodevelopmental disorders such as dyslexia and ADHD. Through an exome sequencing analysis, we identified a rare missense variant (chr16:84405221, GRCh38.p12) in the ATP2C2 gene...
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Purpose Speechreading (lipreading) is a correlate of reading ability in both deaf and hearing children. We investigated whether the relationship between speechreading and single-word reading is mediated by phonological awareness in deaf and hearing children. Method In two separate studies, 66 deaf children and 138 hearing children, aged 5-8 years o...
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This paper discusses research on reading disorders during the period since their classification within the overarching category of neurodevelopmental disorders (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53, 2012, 593). Following a review of the predictors of learning to read across languages, and the role of language skills as critical foundation...
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This study examined the longitudinal relationship between early handwriting skills and the growth of spelling and reading skills in a large sample (N = 569) of 5- to 6-year-old children unselected for ability. The quality of children’s handwriting was assessed using five indicators (letter form, slant, rhythm, ability, general appearance). Children...
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Oral language is crucial for social interaction and for learning in the classroom; it also provides the foundation for reading comprehension. It follows that children with language difficulties are at high risk of educational failure. Recently, a number of studies have demonstrated that it is possible to produce small but significant improvements i...
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Dyslexia is a difficulty in learning to decode (read aloud) and to spell. DSM5 classifies dyslexia as one form of neurodevelopmental disorder. Neurodevelopmental disorders are heritable, life-long conditions with early onset. For many years, research on dyslexia proceeded on the basis that it was a specific learning difficulty – specific meaning th...
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There is increasing recognition of the contribution of morphological skills to the development of reading fluency. However, theoretical models and recent research raise questions about how different language skills influence reading development. The present study was designed to follow the reading development of a large sample of Norwegian children...
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The procedural deficit hypothesis claims that impaired procedural learning is a causal risk factor for developmental dyslexia and developmental language disorder. We investigated the relationships between measures of basic cognitive processes (declarative learning, procedural learning and attention) and measures of attainment (reading, grammar and...
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The ability to construct meaning from texts is the core of reading. We report a meta-analysis and a systematic review of 64 longitudinal studies tracing the development of reading comprehension from preschool. Previous research showed that linguistic comprehension and code-related abilities in preschool correlate moderately with reading comprehensi...
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Understanding the cognitive underpinnings of children's arithmetic development has great theoretical and educational importance. Recent research suggests symbolic and nonsymbolic representations of number influence arithmetic development before and after school entry. We assessed nonverbal ability and general language skills as well as nonsymbolic...
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This study explored the effects of a 27-week reading and language intervention, for low-income children living in a remote Chilean community, using a randomized controlled trial. At the end of the intervention, children in the intervention group showed improvements compared to the waiting group on pre-literacy, reading, language, and reading compre...
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International assessments show that 20% of adolescents cannot read simple texts with understanding. Despite this, research has focused on early reading in childhood and skilled reading in adulthood, neglecting reading development during adolescence. We report a longitudinal study assessing reading and vocabulary development at 12, 13 and 14 years i...
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This study evaluated the effects of a reading and language intervention, for low-income children living in a remote Chilean community, using a randomized controlled trial. At the beginning of the study, participants were allocated to the intervention (n = 34) or waiting control (n = 34) minimizing on a composite language measure and age. Children i...
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Background: Reading comprehension draws on both decoding and linguistic comprehension, and poor reading comprehension can be the consequence of a deficit in either of these skills. Methods: Using outcome data from the longitudinal Wellcome Language and Reading Project, we identified three groups of children at age 8 years: children with dyslexia...
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Purpose We developed and evaluated in a randomized controlled trial a computerized speechreading training program to determine (a) whether it is possible to train speechreading in deaf children and (b) whether speechreading training results in improvements in phonological and reading skills. Previous studies indicate a relationship between speechre...
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It is now widely accepted that phonological language skills are a critical foundation for learning to read (decode). This longitudinal study investigated the predictive relationship between a range of key phonological language skills and early reading development in a sample of 191 children in their first year at school. The study also explored the...
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Background: Weak or inconsistent hand preference has been postulated to be a risk factor for developmental language delay. Following on from our Registered Stage 1 report this study assessed the extent to which variations in language skills are associated with the strength of hand preference. Methods: Data are drawn from a large sample ( N = 569) o...
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Participants consisted of 496 children (mean age = 6 years; 9 months) recruited from 11 schools in Brisbane, Australia. Children were assessed on the addition and subtraction subtests of the Test of Basic Arithmetic and Number Skills (TOBANS), an adapted version of the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task to measure inhibition, numerosity discrimination...
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According to the Triple Code Model, early arithmetic development depends on learning the mappings between non-verbal representations of magnitude (quantity) and symbolic verbal (number words) and visual (Arabic numerals) representations of number. We examined this hypothesis in a sample of 166 4-to 7-year old children. Children completed 4 paired-a...
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The procedural deficit hypothesis claims that impaired procedural learning is at least partly responsible for the deficits in learning to read seen in children with developmental dyslexia. This study used a reading ability‐matched design to examine group differences in both procedural and declarative learning. Both children with dyslexia and typica...
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The present study investigated the moderating role of orthographic consistency on the development of reading comprehension in four language groups (English, n = 179; Spanish, n = 188; Czech, n = 135; Slovak, n = 194) from kindergarten to Grade 2. In all languages, early variations in phoneme awareness/letter knowledge, rapid automatised naming, and...
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Numerosity discrimination tasks (judging which of two random dot arrays contains the larger number) have been widely used as a measure of the efficiency of an approximate number system (ANS) and are a correlate of early arithmetic skills. Recently, it has been suggested that the relationship between numerosity discrimination and arithmetic is expla...
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Background Although language and communication difficulties are common in secondary school students, there has been limited research into the efficacy of interventions for adolescents with language and communication difficulties. Aims To investigate the efficacy of teaching assistant (TA)‐delivered narrative and vocabulary interventions to mainstr...
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Weak or inconsistent hand preference may be a risk factor for developmental language delay. This study will test the extent to which variations in language skills are associated with the strength of hand preference. Data are drawn from a large sample (n = 569) of 6- to 7-year-old children unselected for ability, assessed at two time points, 6 month...
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West et al. (2018) examined the relationship between implicit learning and reading and language attainment in 7‐ to 8‐year‐old children. The implicit learning tasks had poor reliability and did not correlate with language or reading skills. These findings raise problems for the claim that Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and Dyslexia are cause...
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The two major determinants of reading comprehension are language comprehension and decoding, but prior studies of the development of reading comprehension from an early age show inconsistent results. To clarify these inconsistencies we report a 6-year longitudinal study (starting at Age 4 years) where we control for measurement error and track the...
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We followed children at family-risk of dyslexia and children with preschool language difficulties from age 3½, comparing them with controls (N = 234). At age 8, children were classified as having dyslexia or Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and compared at earlier time points with controls. Children with dyslexia have specific difficulties wit...
Preprint
The procedural deficit hypothesis attributes developmental language deficits such as those found in developmental dyslexia and developmental language disorder, at least in part, to impaired procedural learning. In order to test this hypothesis we investigated the relationships between measures of basic cognitive processes (declarative learning, pro...
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Speech perception deficits are commonly reported in dyslexia but longitudinal evidence that poor speech perception compromises learning to read is scant. We assessed the hypothesis that phonological skills, specifically phoneme awareness and RAN, mediate the relationship between speech perception and reading. We assessed longitudinal predictive rel...
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This study investigates the longitudinal predictors of the development of Chinese word reading skills and potential bidirectional relationships between Chinese word reading and oral language skills. We examine, in a 2‐year longitudinal study, a wide range of theoretically important predictors (phonological awareness, tone awareness, morphological a...
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Background Children's vocabulary knowledge is closely related to other measures of language development and to literacy skills and educational attainment. Aim To use a regression discontinuity design (RDD) to evaluate the effectiveness of a small‐group vocabulary intervention programme for children with poor vocabulary knowledge. Methods & Proced...
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This study evaluated the claim that auditory processing deficits are a cause of reading and language difficulties. We report a longitudinal study of 245 children at family risk of dyslexia, children with preschool language impairments, and control children. Children with language impairments had poorer frequency-discrimination thresholds than contr...
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Impaired procedural learning has been suggested as a possible cause of developmental dyslexia (DD) and specific language impairment (SLI). This study examined the relationship between measures of verbal and non-verbal implicit and explicit learning and measures of language, literacy and arithmetic attainment in a large sample of 7 to 8-year-old chi...
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Paired-associate learning (PAL) tasks measure the ability to form a novel association between a stimulus and a response. Performance on such tasks is strongly associated with reading ability, and there is increasing evidence that verbal task demands may be critical in explaining this relationship. The current study investigated the relationships be...
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The automatic letter-sound integration hypothesis proposes that the decoding difficulties seen in dyslexia arise from a specific deficit in establishing automatic letter-sound associations. We report the findings of 2 studies in which we used a priming task to assess automatic letter-sound integration. In Study 1, children between 5 and 7 years of...
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For children who are born deaf, lipreading (speechreading) is an important source of access to spoken language. We used eye tracking to investigate the strategies used by deaf (n = 33) and hearing 5–8-year-olds (n = 59) during a sentence speechreading task. The proportion of time spent looking at the mouth during speech correlated positively with s...
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Background: It is widely believed that increasing parental involvement can improve children's educational outcomes although we lack good evidence for such claims. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a parent-delivered early language enrichment programme. Methods: We conducted a randomised controlled trial (RCT) with 208 preschool children...
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The home literacy environment is a well-established predictor of children’s language and literacy development. We investigated whether formal, informal, and indirect measures of the home literacy environment predict children’s reading and language skills once maternal language abilities are taken into account. Data come from a longitudinal study of...
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Parents and Children Together (PACT), a new parent-delivered teaching programme, has led to gains in children's early language and reading skills. Kelly Burgoyne, Rachel Gardner, Helen Whiteley and Charles Hulme report on the project
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Dyslexia is a specific impairment in learning to read and has strong heritability. An intronic deletion within the DCDC2 gene, with ~8% frequency in European populations, is increasingly used as a marker for dyslexia in neuroimaging and behavioral studies. At a mechanistic level, this deletion has been proposed to influence sensory processing capac...
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Listening comprehension and word decoding are the two major determinants of the development of reading comprehension. The relative importance of different language skills for the development of listening and reading comprehension remains unclear. In this 5-year longitudinal study, starting at age 7.5 years (n = 198), it was found that the shared va...
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Pattern understanding (patterning) is commonly taught in preschool and early elementary classrooms. However, the relationship between patterning and academic attainment is not well understood. In this article, we review studies of children's pattern understanding. Some evidence suggests that pattern understanding is related causally to acquiring ma...
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Previous research has suggested that learning to read irregular words depends upon knowledge of a word’s meaning and the ability to correct imperfect decoding attempts by reference to the known pronunciations of a word. In an experimental training study, 84 children ages 5–7 years were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group. Children...
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This study evaluated two 20-week reading interventions for pupils entering secondary school with reading difficulties. The interventions were delivered by trained teaching assistants (three 35-min sessions per week). 287 pupils (ages 11–13) from 27 schools were randomly allocated to three groups: reading intervention (targeting word recognition and...
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Many children learning English as an additional language (EAL) show reading comprehension difficulties despite adequate decoding. However, the relationship between early language and reading comprehension in this group is not fully understood. The language and literacy skills of 80 children learning English from diverse language backgrounds and 80...
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Background: Oral language skills are a critical foundation for literacy and more generally for educational success. The current study shows that oral language skills can be improved by providing suitable additional help to children with language difficulties in the early stages of formal education. Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled t...