Is There a Relationship Between Speech and Nonspeech Auditory Processing in Children With Dyslexia? A group of 8 young teenagers with dyslexia were compared to age-matched control participants on a number of speech and nonspeech auditory tasks. There were no differences between the control participants and the teenagers with dyslexia in forward and simultaneous masking, nor were there any differences in frequency selectivity as ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2001
Is There a Relationship Between Speech and Nonspeech Auditory Processing in Children With Dyslexia?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Stuart Rosen, PhD
    University College London England
    Department of Phonetics & Linguistics, University College London, 4 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HE, England
  • Eva Manganari
    University College London England
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: stuart@phon.ucl.ac.uk
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Language Disorders / Reading & Writing Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2001
Is There a Relationship Between Speech and Nonspeech Auditory Processing in Children With Dyslexia?
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2001, Vol. 44, 720-736. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/057)
History: Received April 12, 2000 , Accepted March 22, 2001
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2001, Vol. 44, 720-736. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/057)
History: Received April 12, 2000; Accepted March 22, 2001
Web of Science® Times Cited: 116

A group of 8 young teenagers with dyslexia were compared to age-matched control participants on a number of speech and nonspeech auditory tasks. There were no differences between the control participants and the teenagers with dyslexia in forward and simultaneous masking, nor were there any differences in frequency selectivity as indexed by performance with a bandstop noise. Thresholds for backward masking in a broadband noise were elevated for the teenagers with dyslexia as a group. If this deficit in backward masking had an influence on speech perception, we might expect the perception of "ba" versus "da" to be affected, as the crucial second formant transition is followed by a vowel. On the other hand, as forward masking is not different in the two groups, we would expect the perception of "ab" versus "ad" to be unaffected, as the contrastive second formant transition is preceded by a vowel. Overall speech identification and discrimination performance for these two contrasts was superior for the control group but did not differ otherwise. Thus, the clear group deficit in backward masking in the group with dyslexia has no simple relationship to the perception of crucial acoustic features in speech. Furthermore, the deficit for nonspeech analogues of the speech contrasts (second formants in isolation) was much less marked than for the speech sounds, with 75% of the listeners with dyslexia performing equivalently to control listeners. The auditory deficit cannot therefore be simply characterized as a difficulty in processing rapid auditory information. Either there is a linguistic/phonological component to the speech perception deficit, or there is an important effect of acoustic complexity.

Acknowledgments
This study was undertaken as part of an MSc in Speech and Hearing Science by Eva Manganari at the Department of Phonetics & Linguistics at University College London (UCL). We wish to thank the London Dyslexia Association; the Hampstead Dyslexia Clinic; the Copthall School for Girls, Mill Hill; the Bloomfield Learning Centre; and the Hackney and Haringey Dyslexia Support Groups for their cooperation in referring possible participants to us. Many thanks to Andrew Faulkner, Uta Frith, Alison Gallagher, Usha Goswami, and Valerie Hazan for their advice and support on various aspects of the project. Beverly Wright kindly supplied the original data from her study for us to reanalyze. Our three anonymous reviewers were absolute paragons in their diligence and perspicacity, providing many useful suggestions to better the manuscript. Above all, we thank the children and their parents for their willingness to participate in these studies. This work was partially supported by the Wellcome Trust (Grant No. 046823/Z/96).
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