Creating and launching new technologies to enhance early childhood brain development and maximize lifelong cognitive outcomes.
AAB Research LLC
Efficient, rapid and accurate language processing is a fundamental driver of strong linguistic and cognitive performance. But what makes a superior language processor? It turns out that babies Rapid Auditory Processing ("RAP") skills, that is their ability to discriminate among the very fast changes between the smallest pieces of sound, is critical to language acquisition. This "fine-grained" analysis helps infants focus on sounds that occur most often in their native language and encourages the neurons in the acoustic cortex, which respond to those sounds, to form connections that allow the brain to process those sounds automatically. Collectively, these brain networks and their extended connections form the child's acoustic map.
Babies who are very skilled at RAP easily distinguish tiny variations in sound lasting only milliseconds. As a result, they quickly develop the neuronal connections for well-defined acoustic maps, forming clear boundaries between sounds such as "ba" or "da" that allow them to respond specifically to each of those sounds and, later, to incoming streams of language, rapidly and accurately. In contrast, children with weaker RAP abilities develop fuzzy, poorly defined and overlapping or merged acoustic maps and, therefore, can have difficulty learning to read because their brains have trouble matching the appropriate sound to a specific letter.
In sum, the accuracy of acoustic maps, and the proficiency of a child's response to the incoming sound stream, significantly impacts language and cognitive development and, thus, future learning. In fact, Dr. Benasich has shown that infants who are proficient at RAP produce superior results on language tests at three, four and five years old, while infants with poorer RAP skills perform less well on those same tests. As other researchers have demonstrated that results on these standardized pre-reading language and cognitive tests are highly predictive of long-term academic performance and cognitive outcomes, the ability to improve RAP at the point when children are setting up their brains for language learning is an opportunity to provide them with fundamental life-long benefits.
Founded in 2006, AAB Research LLC capitalizes on the leading-edge neuroscience research of Dr. April Benasich, Elizabeth H. Solomon Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and the Director of the Infancy Studies Laboratory at the Center for Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University, to optimize children's brain development and significantly improve their cognitive outcomes throughout life.
AAB's Rapid Auditory Processing Technology or RAPT® is a patented adaptive training algorithm that improves an infant's RAP skills, i.e., their ability to efficiently discriminate and respond to timing cues - a critical element in establishing the efficient neurological language maps that facilitate language acquisition, reading capabilities and learning, in general. Dr. Benasich's peer-reviewed work demonstrates that the auditory processing skills of babies exposed to RAPT® - for as few as 8 to 10 minutes a week for 6 weeks - were twice as fast as those of untrained babies, and at levels associated with materially better later language and reading scores.
Over the last five years, AAB has worked with a group of software and hardware engineers and product designers to create a "home" version of Dr. Benasich's RAPT® lab equipment that can be manufactured for general consumer use worldwide.