How birds advance the speech development of children


What do zebra finches and small children have in common?

Dr Sita ter Haar studies the behaviour and brain development of zebra finches. She wants to help children with speech problems with that. “By discovering which factors influence their learning processes, I can explain individual differences. Just like with children, one bird learns quicker than the other bird.”

The fundamental goal of the research is to discover how the brain works during the development of speech and what the different influences on it are. Ter Haar says: “We hope to discover the cause of problems with speech development during this research.”

She collaborates with various faculties for this research. “It's nice to solve one puzzle together from various perspectives,” Ter Haar says. It is not only nice, but very important as well. “There are many different influences on speech development, so all these expertises are really needed to find out how a child develops.”

Dynamics of Youth

This is a project of Dynamics of Youth, one of the four strategic themes of Utrecht University. Dynamics of Youth connects excellent child and youth research from all seven faculties, and looks for the answer to a crucial question for future generations: how can we help our children with their development into well-balanced individuals who can successfully hold their own in a rapidly changing environment?