Anat Prior - Lab members
Principal Investigator
Anat Prior Ph.D

My research is dedicated to investigating differences between individuals in language learning and processing, with a specific focus on second language. Israel is an immigration country, with a steady flow of newcomers and heritage speakers acquiring Hebrew as a second language. Israel is also home to a large Arab population that is required to master Hebrew in order to be fully integrated into Israeli society. Finally, most Israelis, regardless of their native language, are also faced with the task of learning English, the Lingua Franca of global communication, education and commerce. This makes the study of foreign language acquisition in the Israeli context an issue of utmost importance for social, economic and crucially, educational considerations.

My research uniquely draws on my extensive training as an experimental cognitive psychologist and neuropsychologist, and brings it to bear on practical issues of language learning. Most previous research has relied on models of first language processing to identify cognitive skills that could putatively be important for foreign language learning, a line of investigation that has yielded many important findings. However, in my own research I am making one of the first attempts to translate knowledge I have gained from research on highly proficient bilingual performance towards the question of foreign language learning. This approach carries great potential for establishing a new mode of thinking on the issue of foreign language learning, and expanding the current scientific perspective on the issue. My ultimate goal is conducting research that will lead to practical implementation in educational frameworks, and that will benefit language learners and promote positive outcomes.

Over the last 5 years my approach to these issue has coalesced along 3 main avenues of investigation, in collaboration with students and colleagues: 1) Characterizing proficient bilingual performance and understanding the consequences of bilingualism for cognitive functions more generally, with a specific focus on executive functions; 2) Individual differences in language learning, again with a focus on executive functions; 3) Investigating the predictors of successful second and foreign language learning in the unique language combinations and instructional settings found in the Israeli context.


Ph.D students
 Daphna Shahar Yames

I study the role of Hebrew morphological awareness in literacy skills of elementary school Russian Hebrew bilingual children.

In my research I focus on differences in various aspects of morphological awareness among Russian speaking language minority learners and their Hebrew native speakers' counterparts at 5th grade. Moreover, I examine the contribution of this morphological knowledge to decoding, text reading, spelling and reading comprehension.


Daphna Ben Zion

PhD student, in the dep. of learning disabilities. Speech language therapist.

My research, supervised by Dr. Tali Bitan and Dr. Anat Prior, deals with the effect of sleep on learning and consolidation of new morphological inflections in adults with Dyslexia.

In my research, I focus on functional differences in learning a procedural task (motor and linguistic) between adults with Dyslexia and adults without learning disorders, with emphasis on a morphological task. The effect of sleep on each of the tasks will be examined by behavioral and Polysmnographic analysis.


Billy Mor

PhD student in the Department of Learning Disabilities.

My research, supervised by Dr. Anat Prior and Prof. Tami Katzir, focuses on motivational and higher-level cognitive functions aspects of reading comprehension.

I graduate from Haifa University with an MA in Learning Disabilities, supervised by Dr. Anat Prior. My research focused on the combined effect of bilingualism and ADHD on executive functions.


Yisrael Smith

I am interested in various facets of lexical representation. My MA research focused on metaphor comprehension in adults with Asperger's Syndrome using two word metaphors in a priming study with post-experiment interviews with participants.

Currently I am studying differences in representation of abstract and concrete nouns across the two languages of Hebrew-English bilinguals. The first half of the study included a behavioural priming study and the second half uses ERP methods to examine differences in the N250 and N400 components in the same stimuli and population sample.


Lilach Temelman-Yogev

I am a Phd. Student in the department of learning disabilities and working as a head of an academic-seminar course "Learning Disabilities"in the Open University.

My research, under the supervision of Dr. Anat Prior and Prof. Tami Katzir, focuses on the effects of perceptual-visual features of texts and first (L1) and second (L2) languages on the calibration of comprehension of higher education students.

The purposes of the present research are to achieve a better understanding of the nature of calibration of comprehension in university students reading in L1 and L2, and to investigate whether their performance can be improved by direct feedback. Additionally, we ask whether manipulation of perceptual features of text (such as font size, line length and line spacing) might enhance reading comprehension and calibration of comprehension in L1 and L2.


M.A. students
Avital Peres Rachmilevitch

I am currently pursing an MA in the Brain and Learning program of the University of Haifa’s Learning Disabilities Department.

My research interests are in spelling and second language acquisition. For my thesis, I am studying the role of morphological awareness in the second-language English spelling of native Hebrew speaking schoolchildren.


Hadil Khatib

I graduated with a BA degree in Psychology and special education from the University of Haifa. I am currently an MA student in the Learning Disabilities Program in Arabic, in the Department of Learning Disabilities.

My research goal is to examine interference from L1 (Arabic) while processing L2 (Hebrew) sentences that are presented in spoken or written language, in University students. My research will also examine the contribution of executive functions and L2 proficiency to the processing of Hebrew as a second language among native speakers of Arabic, and their relation to the ability to overcome the interferences from L1 when processing L2.


Razan Silawi

I received my BA in psychology and education from the Hebrew university of Jerusalem. Currently, I'm an MA student in learning disabilities and am writing my thesis under the supervision of Dr. Anat Prior and Dr. Yasmin Shalhoub-Awwad.

My research focuses on calibration during reading comprehension among undergraduates. Particularly, I'm interested in the question whether calibration of comprehension is a meta-cognitive ability that might be shared across languages and beyond specific language proficiency. Moreover, in my research, I'm interested in assessing the development of calibration of reading comprehension throughout the academic career of Arabic native speakers in Arabic (L1), Hebrew (L2), and English (L3), by comparing first and third year students.


 Michael Nevat

My Ph.D. dissertation examined factors affecting learning of morphological rules in an artificial language, and the brain systems involved in this learning, using fMRI.

My master's thesis compared the brain activity of dyslexic participants and a control group during performance of a visual lexical decision task, using ERP methodology and EEG source localization.

I am currently involved in a project led by Dr. Anat Prior and Prof. Asaid Khateb, using fMRI, and aimed at comparing between diglossia and bilingualism among speakers of Arabic whose second language is Hebrew, as well as comparing language and task selection processes among bilingual individuals.


Rita Zeltsman Kulick

My research, supervised by Prof. Tami Katzir and Dr. Anat Prior, deals with LD and non-LD adolescents learning English as a foreign language, with the focus on English word reading and English reading comprehension.

I am also interested in finding out how Hebrew as first language influences this process. My aim is to identify linguistic and non-linguistic predictors of proficiency in the above variables and to compare reading acquisition of reading in L1 Hebrew, L1 English and EFL.


Amir Grosvirt

Bachelor of Agronomy from the Hebrew University in 1994.

I am currently an MA student in the Brain and Learning program in the department of learning disabilities. My research focuses on consolidation and interference in the process of learning a miniature artificial language. My goal is to better understand the difference between children and adults in the process of Second Language Acquisition (SLA).

My Supervisors are Prof. Avi Karni and Dr. Anat Prior


Gilly Herman

I hold a bachelor's degree in psychology and special education and a master's degree in learning disabilities from the University of Haifa.

My thesis, which was conducted at the Laboratory of Bilingualism and supervised by Prof. Michal Shani and Dr. Anat Prior, focused on the relation between executive functions and reading monitoring. I am currently working in Beit Ruth where I teach English and diagnose learning disabilities.


Noa Goldwasser

I graduated from the University of Haifa in 2012 with an MA in Learning Disabilities. My thesis is titled "In search of a bilingual advantage in Executive Function: The Effect of Balance and Bi-literacy", supervised by Dr Anat Prior and Dr Mila Schwartz.

Today I work as a learning disabilities specialist and therapist, in Nahariya.


Rana Yassin

I work as a diagnostician and a therapist of Learning Disabilities.

I graduated with a BA degree in Psychology from the University of Haifa in 2011, and an MA in learning disabilities (2014). My MA thesis focused on the relation between the ability to overcome the interferences from L1 (Arabic) while processing L2 (Hebrew), domain general executive functions and proficiency in L2.


Yael Halle

I received a B.A. in Behavioral Science from the Tel Aviv-Yaffo Academic College (2008), and an MA in Diagnosis and Treatment of Learning Disabilities, from the University of Haifa (2014).

My research, supervised by Dr. Anat Prior, examined the relations between Language Learning and Working Memory using Artificial Language, comparing children and adults.

Currently, I am the director of a Learning Center of 30 Middle School pupils diagnosed with Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD. We help the pupils acquire tools and strategies to deal with their disabilities.


Reut Vardi

I graduated from Ben-Gurion University with a BA in Psychology and from Haifa University with an MA in Learning Disabilities. My MA research focused on Language acquisition, and questioned whether individual differences in Statistical Learning correlate with language processing efficiency, in children and adults.


contact us

  • Anat Prior
    Department of Learing Disabilities
    University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838
  • E-mail:
  • Office: 04-8249357 (Internal 3357)
  • Orly Rubinsten
    Department of Learning Disabilities
    University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838
  • E-mail:
  • Office: 04-8288131 (Internal 8131)