Two of the most important cultural abilities are reading and writing. One can imagine how essential they are for addressing the challenges in everyday life. It is surprising that even in Germany, a highly developed country, there are still about 7.5 million individuals who cannot read or write sufficiently . This large number of individuals without sufficient literal abilities highlights the importance of investigations concerning literacy acquisition in illiterate adults. Further, this special sample can give us more information about the importance of literacy acquisition in generaland its impact on the human brain, and its functions. Auditory phoneme discrimination is one of the most important cognitive abilities for literacy acquisition . It has been shown that successful literacy acquisition is closely related to auditory phoneme discrimination. Schulte-Körne et al.  demonstrated that children with dyslexia show diminished Mismatch Negativity (MMN) in response to phonemes compared to normally developing children. The MMN is the characteristic event-related potential (ERP) marker for auditory phoneme discrimination. We investigated the MMN in illiterates before they took part in a literacy course  and did not find a discernible MMN in our illiterate sample. These results support the assumption that literacy acquisition has a great impact on the brain. In addition, they lead to the question whether the MMN in response to phonemes, which is already established in infants  and develops further during literacy acquisition, “is lost” in illiterate individuals and whether literacy training might help to enhance auditory phoneme discrimination again. Results would help to improve literacy acquisition in adults and further help to gain insights into the interplay between literacy acquisition and auditory phoneme discrimination. The study at hand aimed to investigate possible changes in auditory phoneme discrimination in illiterates by comparing the MMN before after a one-year literacy course. A person is illiterate if his or her literal abilities are insufficient compared to those abilities that are normally required in the social context a person lives in. Illiteracy is present if adult individuals are not able to read and write sufficiently due to inadequate schooling . Another well-known deficit regarding reading and writing is dyslexia. Familial frequency highlights genetic causes of dyslexia [DSM IV-R] . When contrasting illiteracy and dyslexia, it becomes apparent that illiteracy is mainly caused by a lack of education whereas dyslexia is not. Many studies have investigated phonological awareness in children with and without dyslexia. Phonological awareness refers to “…one´s awareness of and access to the phonology of one´s language…”  and is the ability to manipulate and discriminate sounds in syllables and words. It encompasses awareness of the most basic speech units of a language. These basic units include phonemes as well as larger units such as rhymes and syllables. Phonological awareness is highly predictive of future success in literacy acquisition, that is, it is one of the most important cognitive prerequisites for literacy acquisition .
Citation: Schaadt G, Pannekamp A, van der Meer E (2014) Gaining Mismatch Negativity! Improving Auditory Phoneme Discrimination by Literacy Training â€“ A Pre-Post Event-Related Potential Study. Int J Sch Cogn Psychol 1: 101. doi: 10.4172/ijscp.1000101