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
 Nawras Abbas

I am a BA graduate in Special Education and English Language and Literature from the University of Haifa. Currently, I am a PhD student in the department of Learning Disabilities.

My research, supervised by Dr. Anat Prior, examines interference from both languages (L1 Arabic and L2 Hebrew), as opposed to interference from only one of the languages in L3 (English) syntactic processing, using grammaticality judgement task and eye-tracking measures. The central question addressed is whether L1 has a privileged role, or whether the entire linguistic repertoire is activated when processing L3. In addition, the research explores whether specific language proficiency might impact interference.


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.


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.


Razan Silawi

I received my BA in psychology and education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and my MA in learning disabilities from Haifa University, currently I'm a Phd student in the department of learning disabilities.

My MA research was under the supervision of Dr. Anat Prior and Dr. Yasmin Shalhoub-Awwad, it focused on calibration during reading comprehension among undergraduates. Particularly, the main question was whether calibration of comprehension is a meta-cognitive ability that might be shared across languages and beyond specific language proficiency. Moreover, we assesed 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. The results showed evidences to calibration of reading comprehension as a domain general, and showed, almost, no differences between first and third year students.

In my Phd research, which is under supervision of Dr. Anat Prior, we examine the cross-linguistic - syntactic- transfer of L1 (Arabic) and L2 (Hebrew) when processing L3 (English). The study highlights the role of executive control in transfer by including a group of individuals diagnosed with ADHD, in addition to assessing individual differences on executive control tasks. Moreover, the study further investigates the dynamics of transfer by comparing performance on language comprehension and production tasks.


Rana Sammour-Shehadeh

I received a B.A. in Psychology and English Language and Literature, a teaching Certificate in English and an M.A. in Learning Disabilities from the University of Haifa.

My study, under the supervision of Dr. Anat Prior and Dr. Janina Kahn-Horwitz, will examine the effects of phonological and orthographic characteristics in Arabic as L1 on spelling in English as FL. The study will distinguish between spelling errors that occur as a result of L1 interference and are unique to EFL learners as opposed to errors that occur as a result of the characteristics of the English orthography and are evident in L1 learners as well.

In addition, the study will examine whether individual differences in susceptibility to interference in spelling are connected to individual differences in English proficiency and executive functions abilities.


Tamar Michaly

PhD student in the Department of Learning Disabilities. My research, supervised by Dr. Anat Prior, investigate the development of morphological knowledge in language minority children compared to their monolingual peers. It is important to precisely map the language minority children's trajectory of developing morphological knowledge for both theoretical and practical contributions.


M.A. students
 Gal Pedael

I received my B.A in Special Education and Hebrew language and my teaching certificate from the Oranim College. I am currently studying in the Learning Disabilities program, which is a Hebrew program, at the U niversity of Haifa. My M.A. research, supervised by Dr. Anat Prior, will focus on comparing morphological knowledge of L1 Hebrew speakers and L2 Hebrew speakers among preschoolers.


Kareen Rohana

I received a B.A in Special Education & Counselling and Human Development from the University of Haifa. Currently, I'm an M.A student in the Department of Learning Disabilities. My research, supervised by Dr. Anat Prior, investigates language choices among Arabic-Hebrew bilingual university students living in Israel and immersed in a Hebrew speaking academic environment. In particular, the research examines how two different factors might affect language choices - objective proficiency and subjective attitudes, or possibly an interaction between the two.


Shir Schreiber

I am an MA student in the department of Learning Disabilities in Haifa University. My research, supervised by Dr. Anat Prior, deals with cross language interference from first language (Hebrew) And second language (English). The research focuses on the degree of this interference in the phonological, lexical and syntax domains and examines whether that interference is domain specific.


Lab Manager
Miri Goldberg

I am a B.A. graduate in Psychology and English Language and Literature, and an M.A. graduate in Occupational-Organizational Psychology, from the University of Haifa. For the last few years I have been working with Dr. Tamar Degani from the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at the University of Haifa, managing her Multilingual Lab. While working together, we have conducted a study examining interactions of translation ambiguity and individual differences in cognitive resources and linguistic background during foreign vocabulary learning. Native Hebrew speakers and Russian-Hebrew multilinguals learned the phonological form of unambiguous and ambiguous Arabic words along with their Hebrew translation and meaning definition. Results from translation-production and meaning-recognition tests revealed greater difficulty in learning translation-ambiguous words than translation unambiguous ones. Further, learners’ phonological memory was associated with overall better learning, but also with increased translation-ambiguity cost. Finally, learners’ proficiency in the language from which learning took place (Hebrew), but not degree of multilingualism, modulated learning. This study is to be published in the Language Learning academic journal.


Research Assistants
Nur Awad

I am 24 years old. I was born in California and I have been living in Israel for 14 years. I completed my BA in English Literature at the University of Haifa in 2017, and am now working towards my MA in English Literature. I have been working as a research assistant in the lab since 2017, working on developing English language research materials, collecting data from participants and coding and analyzing data.


 Dr. Billy Mor

Dr. in the Department of Learning Disabilities.

My research, supervised by Dr. Anat Prior, deals with individual differences in reading in first and second language. Specifically, it focuses on frequency and predictability effects, among Israeli readers with English as their L2. The reading processes are measured by tracking the readers' eye-movements, which is a naturalistic and ecologically valid measure.

I graduate from Haifa University with an MA in Learning Disabilities and as a licensed diagnostic specialist. My thesis research, supervised by Dr. Anat Prior, focused on the joint effect of bilingualism and ADHD on executive functions.


Gali Yosefi

I am an MA graduate of the Department of Learning Disabilities and graduated my B.ed. in Special Education and Mathematics.

My research, supevised by Dr. Anat Prior, explores the emotional vocabulary of children and its contribution to emotional processing. The research population is bilingual students who speak both Hebrew and Russian.

In addition, I am a research assistent in the bilingualism laboratory.


Avital Peres Rachmilevitch

I am an MA graduate of 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.


Dr. 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.


Dr. Rita Zeltsman Kulick

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

I was also interested in finding out how Hebrew as first language influences this process. My aim was 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.


Dr. 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 focused 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.


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.


Amir Grosvirt

Bachelor of Agronomy from the Hebrew University in 1994.

I am an MA graduate of the Brain and Learning program in the department of learning disabilities. My research focused 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 were 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 at High School for at-risk youth.


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-Niv

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.


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.


Hadil Khatib

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

My research goal was to examine interference from L1 (Arabic) while processing L2 (Hebrew) sentences that are presented in spoken or written language, in University students. My research also examined the contribution of executive functions and L2 proficiency on 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.

Currently, I diagnose and treat children with learning disabilities. I work as a learning specialist in a middle school and as a remedial teacher in a learning center.


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)