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A core difficulty in developmental dyslexia is the accurate specification and neural representation of speech. We argue that a likely perceptual cause of this difficulty is a deficit in the perceptual experience of rhythmic timing. Speech rhythm is one of the earliest cues used by infants to discriminate syllables and is determined principally by the acoustic structure of amplitude modulation at relatively low rates in the signal. We show significant differences between dyslexic and normally reading children, and between young early readers and normal developers, in amplitude envelope onset detection. We further show that individual differences in sensitivity to the shape of amplitude modulation account for 25% of the variance in reading and spelling acquisition even after controlling for individual differences in age, nonverbal IQ, and vocabulary. A possible causal explanation dependent on perceptual-center detection and the onset-rime representation of syllables is discussed.
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Amplitude envelope onsets and developmental
dyslexia: A new hypothesis
Usha Goswami*
, Jennifer Thomson*, Ulla Richardson*, Rhona Stainthorp
, Diana Hughes
, Stuart Rosen
and Sophie K. Scott
*Institute of Child Health, University College London, London WC1N 1EH, United Kingdom;
Institute of Education, University of London, London
WC1H 0AA, United Kingdom;
Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London, Egham, Surrey
TW20 0EX, United Kingdom; and Departments of
Phonetics and Linguistics and
Psychology, University College London, London
WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom
Communicated by James L. McClelland, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, June 20, 2002 (received for review January 25, 2002)
A core difficulty in developmental dyslexia is the accurate speci-
fication and neural representation of speech. We argue that a likely
perceptual cause of this difficulty is a deficit in the perceptual
experience of rhythmic timing. Speech rhythm is one of the earliest
cues used by infants to discriminate syllables and is determined
principally by the acoustic structure of amplitude modulation at
relatively low rates in the signal. We show significant differences
between dyslexic and normally reading children, and between
young early readers and normal developers, in amplitude envelope
onset detection. We further show that individual differences in
sensitivity to the shape of amplitude modulation account for 25%
of the variance in reading and spelling acquisition even after
controlling for individual differences in age, nonverbal IQ, and
vocabulary. A possible causal explanation dependent on percep-
tual-center detection and the onset-rime representation of sylla-
bles is discussed.
hildren with developmental dyslexia have specific problems
with reading and spelling that cannot be accounted for by
low intelligence, poor educational opportunities, or obvious
sensoryneurological damage. The accepted core problem
across languages is a deficit in phonological representation (1, 2),
although this can be accompanied by other deficits (3, 4). In
developmental theories of language acquisition, phonological or
speech-based representations in children no longer are thought
to be organized around phonemic segments from the outset (5).
The explicit phonemic representation of speech is thought to
depend on being taught to read an alphabetic script (6). If it is
accepted that phonemic representation is a product of literacy
and constitutes a psychological process that is not logically
necessary for speech perception and production (7), then the
phonological deficit in dyslexia must arise at a developmentally
earlier level of phonological representation than the phoneme.
Obvious candidate levels are those of the syllable (pop-si-cle,
gar-den) and onset rime (s-eat, sw-eet, str-eet). Phonological
awareness of the syllables, onsets, and rimes in words develops
before literacy across languages. For example, prereaders learn-
ing to speak English, Chinese, and German all perform well in
‘‘oddity’’ tasks in which they must select the odd word out that
does not rhyme (e.g., pat, hat, man; refs. 8–10). Onset-rime
awareness tasks (but not usually syllabic-awareness tasks) also
are good predictors of literacy acquisition across languages
(11–13). A perceptual deficit in the mechanisms used to extract
the suprasegmental attributes of the speech stream thus may
help to cause the phonological awareness and literacy problems
characteristic of developmental dyslexia across orthographies.
Rhythm in speech is a property of the slow amplitude mod-
ulation (AM) of the waveform (14), corresponding roughly to
the AM associated with syllables. Previous studies have shown
that dyslexic children have difficulty in detection of AM and
frequency modulation at rates (2–10 Hz) similar to those seen at
the syllable level in speech (15, 16). To investigate the impact that
these difficulties might have on the perception of rhythm in
acoustic signals, we designed a perceptual task in which AM was
varied to affect the perception of distinct, discrete ‘‘beats’’ in the
auditory stream. Potential differences in the psychometric func-
tion for beat detection between dyslexic and matched control
children, and between precocious readers and their matched
controls, then were investigated.
Our psychophysical task was based on a rate of AM change
task, which takes advantage of the relationship between beat
perception and the shape of AM change (17). The task was based
on a sinusoid that was modulated in amplitude to a depth of 50%.
Within this, the rate of amplitude change only was varied by
varying the rise time of the modulation, while the overall rate of
modulation was held constant at 0.7 Hz (see Fig. 1). Very slow
rise times (250 ms) give the percept of a continuous sound that
varies in loudness. When the rise time is shortened sufficiently,
however (e.g., to 120 ms), the percept changes to that of a
continuous sound with a loud beat occurring rhythmically at the
same rate as the modulation (18). Given that aspects of syllable
processing (i.e., onset-rime awareness) are poorer in dyslexic
children, we predicted that they would have poorer sensitivity to
the perceptual consequences of AM than control children. As
rise time is varied, dyslexic children should evidence less change
in AM-related experiences of beat perception than their con-
trols. Two studies of beat detection were carried out. In the first,
dyslexic children were compared with reading and chronological
age-matched control children in a cross-sectional design. In the
second, young early readers participating in a longitudinal study
were compared with their matched controls from the same study.
We predicted that precocious readers should be significantly
more sensitive to variations of rise time in the amplitude-
modulated sequences than their controls, as indexed by their
perception of beats.
The ‘‘phonological deficit’’ in developmental dyslexia is in-
dexed typically by behavioral difficulties in three related areas of
phonological processing, all of which we expected to be related
to beat detection. We therefore measured phonological aware-
ness (using the rhyme oddity task), rapid ‘‘automatized’’ naming
(or RAN) of letters and pictures, and phonological short-term
memory (PSTM, repetition of triples of nonwords) in our
dyslexic children and their controls. We also measured spelling
as well as reading. In languages other than English, develop-
mental dyslexia is diagnosed on the basis of a severe spelling
deficit accompanied by extremely slow performance in phono-
logical processing tasks (because orthographic transparency
makes decoding very accurate). To contribute to developmental
dyslexia across languages, therefore, beat detection should be
related to spelling as well as to reading.
Abbreviations: AM, amplitude modulation; RAN, rapid automatized naming; PSTM, pho-
nological short-term memory; RFD, rapid-frequency discrimination; TOJ, temporal order
judgement; CA, chronological age; RL, reading level; WISC, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for
Children; P center, perceptual center.
To whom reprint requests should be addressed at: Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford
Street, London WC1N 1EH, United Kingdom. E-mail:
www.pnas.orgcgidoi10.1073pnas.122368599 PNAS
August 6, 2002
vol. 99
no. 16
On the basis of the prior basic auditory processing literature
with dyslexic children, we also included two rapid temporal-
processing tasks in our study. One was a version of the rapid-
frequency discrimination (RFD) task pioneered by Tallal and
coworkers (19). The other was a temporal order-judgement
(TOJ) task based on easily labeled environmental sounds (dog
car horn). We expected dyslexic children to show deficits in both
tasks, because both require rapid spectrotemporal integration
(suggested to be the basis of the phonological deficit in dyslexia
by Tallal et al. in refs. 20 and 21). However, deficits in rapid
spectrotemporal integration (and processing related acoustic
cues such as place of articulation and voice-onset time) have not
always been found in dyslexic children (22).
Subjects. One hundred and one children were tested, of whom 24
had a statement of dyslexia from their local education authority.
In the United Kingdom, ‘‘statements of dyslexia’’ depend on
extensive testing by educational psychologists and are the basis
for service provision. Twenty of the dyslexic children were at
special schools with curricula focused on remediating the pho-
nological deficit. Because of this remediation, single-word de-
coding for this group was in the normal range. Subject charac-
teristics are shown in Table 1. None of the dyslexic children had
additional difficulties (e.g., dyspraxia, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, autistic spectrum disorder, or specific
language impairment) according to their specialist assessments.
The control children for the dyslexics (n 49) were drawn from
local schools and comprised those in the right agereading age
range whose parents returned consent forms. Twenty-eight
children who were participating in a longitudinal study of
precocious readers were tested also with the beat-detection task.
All of these participants had been followed from 4 years of age
and were aged 11 at the time of testing. Of these children, 14 were
young early readers, and 14 were young early controls who had
been individually matched to the young early readers on the basis
of socioeconomic status and vocabulary ability at age 4 (23).
Auditory Processing Tasks. AMbeat-perception task. The children
were presented with 7.857-s sound sequences, all of which were
sinusoidal carriers at 500 Hz, were amplitude-modulated at a
rate of 0.7 Hz, and had a depth of 50%. The underlying
modulation envelope was based on a square wave, but the fall
time was fixed at 350 ms, and the rise time could be varied from
15 to 300 ms (logarithmically spaced over a continuum of 40
stimuli). Before testing, the children were trained by using the
two extremes of the continuum. The 15-ms stimulus (which
yielded a clear beat) was presented as the sound of two toys
(Tigger and Eeyore) swinging on a double-toy swing. The
back-and-forth rhythm of their swing coincided with the beat in
the signal. The 300-ms stimulus was presented as the sound of
Winnie the Pooh sliding down a solid plastic straw in the form
of a spiral (he got nearer to the child or further away as the
training sound got louder and quieter, respectively). The chil-
dren then were asked to decide whether subsequent stimuli
(given by computer through headphones) belonged to Winnie
the Pooh or to Tigger and Eeyore. Performance on this task was
measured by using Levitts adaptive procedure (24) with mod-
ifications to increase efficiency (25). Two independent adaptive
tracks were used to estimate the points on the rise-time contin-
uum at which the stimuli were labeled as Winnie the Pooh 29 and
71% of the time, with a maximum of 40 trials. Tracks started at
the endpoints of the continuum, with rise times of 15 and 300 ms.
The categorization function was derived from all trials in a
particular test, and summary statistics for slope and category
boundary estimated by Probit analysis (26). Shallower slopes
Fig. 1. Examples of the stimulus wave form for rise times of 15 (a) and 300
(b) ms.
Fig. 2. Bubble plots of the psychometric functions from the dyslexic (a), chronological age (CA) control (b), and reading level (RL) control (c) groups for the
beat-detection task. The size of the bubbles represents the number of trials.
www.pnas.orgcgidoi10.1073pnas.122368599 Goswami et al.
indicate less sensitivity to variations in the acoustic feature
varied across the continuum (here, rise time).
RFD task. The nonspeech samedifferent task was similar to
that described in ref. 19. The basic stimuli were two vowel-like
50-ms complex periodic tones (rise and fall times of 5 ms) with
fundamental frequencies of 100 and 305 Hz. Every trial con-
sisted of two stimuli presented sequentially with an interstimulus
interval (ISI) of 0, 10, 50, 100, or 400 ms. All four possible
stimulus orders were presented (low-low, low-high, high-low, and
high-high), and listeners responded by indicating ‘‘same’’ or
‘‘different.’’ Trials were presented in a random order, with one
occurrence of each ISI and stimulus order, making 20 trials
(5 ISIs 4 orders).
Dogcar-horn TOJ task. This task used two stimuli that were
readily identifiable without prior training as a dog bark and a car
horn. The dog bark was aperiodic, whereas the car horn was
periodic with a fundamental frequency of 400 Hz. Starting
from sounds accompanying a childrens computer game, various
manipulations of amplitude envelope and duration were used to
create stimuli with a total duration of 115 ms each, with rise and
fall times of 5 ms. The two stimuli then were normalized to have
the same rms level. The continuum of sounds consisted of 204
stimuli in which the stimulus onset asynchrony varied from 405
ms (horn leading dog) to 405 ms (dog leading horn) in 4-ms
steps. Stimuli were allowed to overlap to the degree necessary to
create the specified stimulus onset asynchronys. For testing, the
same adaptive procedure was used as for the beat-detection task,
but the children indicated simply which sound they heard first.
If dyslexic children are poorer at TOJs, then their psychometric
functions in this task also should be flatter than those of controls.
Phonological Processing Tasks. Oddity task. The child listened to
sets of three words and had to select the nonrhyme (e.g., gap,
nap, Jack).
PSTM. The child listened to sets of three nonwords and had to
repeat them (e.g., loff, bup, heg). Both tasks were presented via
headphones by using digitized speech.
RAN task. The child had to name familiar pictures and letters
under timed conditions.
Standardized Psychometric Tests. The children received four sub-
sets of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC):
blocks, picture arrangement, similarities, and vocabulary. The
British Ability Scales reading, spelling, and mathematics sub-
scales also were administered, along with the Graded Test of
Nonword Reading (27).
Beat Detection in Dyslexic and Normally Reading Children. A signif-
icant difference was found between the group of dyslexic chil-
dren and their chronological age controls in the slope of the
categorization function (see Fig. 2), with the dyslexics showing
flatter slopes as predicted [mean slope ⫽⫺0.03 for dyslexics
(SD 0.04) and 0.12 for controls (SD 0.08), P 0.000]. The
reading age match controls showed intermediate slopes (mean
slope ⫽⫺0.06, SD 0.05). Detection of beats in AM signals
Fig. 3. Bubble plots of the psychometric functions from the dyslexic (a), CA control (b), and RL control (c) groups for the dogcar-horn TOJ task. The stimulus
onset asynchrony (SOA) values refer to the stimulus onset asynchrony of the dog in relation to the car horn (e.g., 400 ms means the dog barked 400 ms before
the horn sounded).
Table 1. Participant characteristics
Standardized tests
Dyslexic CA match RL match
Young early
readers Non-early readers
N 24 25 24 14 14
Age in years and months 9, 0 (11) 9, 0 (8) 7, 11 (4) 11, 4 (4) 11, 4 (4)
Reading standard score* 101.1 (11.7) 142.5 (14.7) 108.3 (13.0) 117.4 (3.6) 110.9 (5.5)
Spelling standard score* 69.0 (12.1) 107.8 (16.2) 85.5 (12.1) 124.4 (8.3) 109.7 (6.7)
Nonword reading20 7.4 (5.5) 15.7 (4.0) 11.3 (5.1) ——
109.1 (11.4) 111.9 (11.0) 105.7 (10.6) 50.4 (3.3) 47.8 (5.4)
Standard deviations are shown in parentheses.
*Dyslexics and CA and RL controls: British Ability Scales. Young early readers, non-early readers, WORD.
Dyslexics and CA and RL controls: WISC. Young early readers, non-early readers, Ravens raw score.
Goswami et al. PNAS
August 6, 2002
vol. 99
no. 16
thus was poorer in the dyslexic children than in their peers and
seemed to vary with reading level.
To explore the relationship between beat detection and
phonological processing, reading and spelling, partial correla-
tions controlling for age, and WISC IQ (WISC short form) were
calculated. Group performance in the behavioral tasks is shown
in Table 2, and the partial correlations are shown in Table 3. As
predicted, there were highly significant relationships between
beat detection and RAN, phonological memory, phonological
awareness, reading, spelling, and nonword reading. On the rapid
spectrotemporal integration hypothesis, significant relationships
with phonological processing and literacy would be expected also
for the RFD and the dogcar-horn TOJ tasks (group perfor-
mance shown in Figs. 3 and 4); this was the case, but the
relationships found were not as strong as those for the beat-
detection task (see Table 3). Both the RFD task and the
beat-detection task showed a significant relationship with math-
ematical ability, which was not predicted. This result could
reflect the short-term memory demands of the mental arithmetic
tasks in the standardized mathematical assessment used here.
If basic auditory processing is important in causing the pho-
nological deficit that characterizes developmental dyslexia, then
measures of basic auditory processing should predict reading,
spelling, and phonological ability even when age, nonverbal IQ,
and vocabulary are controlled. To determine predictive rela-
tionships, a series of four-step fixed-entry multiple regression
equations were computed on the data set (73 children). The
dependent variables were reading ability, spelling ability, non-
word reading, rime oddity, RAN, and PSTM. The independent
variables were (in a fixed order) (i) age, (ii) nonverbal IQ,
(iii) vocabulary, and (iv) an auditory-processing measure (beat
detection, RFD, or dogcar-horn TOJ). The beat-detection
measure accounted for an additional 25% of the variance in
reading and spelling in these stringent analyses (see Table 4).
The RFD measure did not predict spelling, but it did predict
reading and nonword reading, accounting for an additional 10
and 12% of the variance, respectively. The TOJ measure was less
sensitive, predicting a significant proportion of the variance in
reading (6%) only. All three measures predicted phonological
awareness and PSTM, but only the beat-detection measure
predicted RAN performance (see Table 4).
Whereas the RFD and TOJ tasks are thought to tap the ability
to detect rapid acoustic change (at a time scale of 40 ms), the
rise times that yield the perceptual experience of beats are
considerably longer in duration (up to 150 ms or more). To
determine whether there was overlap in the variance in reading
accounted for by the beat-detection and RFD tasks, a pair of
five-step multiple regression equations were computed, both
entering (i) age, (ii) nonverbal IQ, and (iii) vocabulary followed
by the two auditory measures in either order. When entered last,
the beat-detection measure accounted for an additional 19% of
the variance in reading (P 0.001). The RFD measure entered
last accounted for an additional 4% (P 0.02). A large
proportion of the variance in reading predicted by the RFD task
was clearly shared with the beat-detection task but not vice versa.
To determine whether individual differences in these basic
processing abilities still would be predictive of reading even when
Fig. 4. Performance on the RFD task by group. ISI, interstimulus interval.
Table 3. Partial correlations between the basic
auditory-processing measures and the experimental variables
controlling for age and WISC IQ
P-center slope Dogcar TOJ RFD
Reading 0.59* 0.27
Spelling 0.56* 0.25
Nonword reading 0.43* 0.20 0.42*
Mathematics 0.34
0.06 0.24
Oddity 0.43* 0.28
RAN 0.36
0.12 0.23
PSTM 0.36
P center 0.25
Dogcar-horn TOJ 0.25
RFD 0.32
*P 0.0001.
P 0.05.
P 0.01.
Table 2. Mean performance for the dyslexics and CA and RL
controls on the behavioral tasks
Dyslexics* CA match RL match
Oddity, % correct 46.9 (16.7) 74.2 (12.2) 53.5 (14.3)
PSTM, % phonemes
79.0 (8.8) 86.5 (5.1) 79.9 (10.0)
RAN mean speed, sec 36.7 (7.5) 29.1 (3.7) 34.6 (5.6)
standard score
92.7 (20.3) 114.6 (16.0) 94.4 (14.0)
Beat detection: slope 0.03 (0.04) 0.12 (0.08) 0.06 (0.05)
RFD task, % correct 75.7 (13.3) 88.6 (10.7) 72.3 (18.2)
Dogcar-horn TOJ:
0.03 (0.02) 0.04 (0.03) 0.03 (0.02)
Standard deviations are shown in parentheses.
*Dyslexics CA at P 0.05.
RL CA at P 0.05.
Table 4. Percentage of variance in reading, spelling, nonword
reading, phonological awareness (oddity), PSTM, and RAN
explained by the different independent variables in separate
xed-entry multiple-regression equations
Dependent variable
(columns show separate equations), R
Reading Spelling Nonword R Oddity PSTM RAN
Step 1: age 0.09* 0.03 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.11*
Step 2: blocks 0.05
0.04 0.04 0.13* 0.00 0.05
Step 3: vocabulary 0.11* 0.07 0.02 0.04 0.05 0.00
Step 4: P center 0.25
0.12* 0.08*
Step 4: RFD 0.10* 0.04 0.12* 0.09* 0.13* 0.01
Step 4: Dogcar
0.05 0.03 0.06
Steps 13 were always the same (age, nonverbal IQ, and vocabulary). Step
4 was a basic auditory-processing variable (P centers, RFD, or dogcar TOJ).
*P 0.01.
P 0.05.
P 0.001.
www.pnas.orgcgidoi10.1073pnas.122368599 Goswami et al.
phonological awareness was controlled, a second pair of five-step
multiple regression equations were computed, entering (i) age,
(ii) nonverbal IQ, (iii) vocabulary, (iv) oddity, and (v) beat
detection or RFD. Here only beat detection remained a signif-
icant predictor of reading, accounting for an additional 9% of the
variance (P 0.001, the oddity measure at step four accounted
for 31% of the variance in reading).
Beat Detection in Young Early Readers and Normally Developing
As a further test of the hypothesis that AM-driven beat
detection is associated with the phonological determinants of
reading ability, we also assessed beat detection in a group of
young early readers who had learned to read without parental
instruction before entering school (see ref. 23). These children,
now aged 11, had taught themselves to read on the basis of their
superior phonological skills at age 4. Theoretically, these supe-
rior phonological skills may have developed at least partly
because of excellent rhythm perception (i.e., enhanced ability to
perceive beats in amplitude-modulated sequences). Compared
with control children from the same longitudinal study, the
young early readers showed greater sensitivity to beats, with
significantly sharper psychometric functions [young early read-
ers, mean slope ⫽⫺0.14 (SD 0.06), matched controls ⫽⫺0.10
(SD 0.04), P 0.04]. Sensitivity to AM was also significantly
related to reading progress in this cohort, both in terms of
reading comprehension (r ⫽⫺0.42) and development of the
orthographic lexicon (word chains test, r ⫽⫺0.43).
Our hypothesis was that the potential deficits in AM and
frequency-modulation detection in dyslexic individuals reported
by other groups (see refs. 15 and 16) might relate to deficits in
the processing of acoustic structure at the level of the syllable.
This processing is best described as rhythm detection. If this
version of a syllabic hypothesis is correct, then children with
phonological developmental dyslexia should be characterized by
poorer AM beat detection. This hypothesis was supported.
Dyslexic children showed significantly inferior detection of AM
beats compared with controls, and children with superior liter-
acy acquisition showed significantly superior detection of AM
beats. This report demonstrates a developmental continuum in
a basic auditory-processing ability (beat detection) from dyslexic
to exceptional child readers.
Theoretically, the detection of beats in AM sequences such as
those used here corresponds to the detection of ‘‘perceptual
centers’’ (P centers) in acoustic signals. P centers are the
perceptual moments of occurrence in speech (28) and musical
(29) sounds. Determined by the onsets of signals (30), P centers
are associated in speech with rapid increases of midband spectral
energy, typically occurring around the onset of a vowel (31).
From a speech-development perspective therefore, they consti-
tute a nonspeech-specific mechanism for segregating syllable
onsets and rhymes. Their accurate detection should be important
for the quality of phonological representation. In line with this
hypothesis, beat detection was shown to be related to individual
differences in phonological processing, although the strongest
relationships found were for reading and spelling progress. Beat
detection was a significant predictor of literacy even when
phonological processing was controlled, which could reflect
developmental factors. Stronger relationships between beat de-
tection and phonological processing might be found in younger
children who are just beginning to read. Note that because
beatsP centers are a consequence of the processing of complex
sound, both speech and nonspeech, it is difficult to argue that
differences in such sensitivity are a product of reading acquisi-
tion. Nevertheless, this possibility cannot be ruled out on the
basis of the current data.
Working from the association of beats in a perceptual se-
quence and P centers, our hypothesis is that the primary
auditory-processing deficit in dyslexia is related to P-center
processing of speech and nonspeech sounds. AM rise time
contributes to this perceptual primitive, and thus other observed
auditory deficits (e.g., auditory-stream segregation and back-
ward masking; refs. 3234) may arise in part because the stimuli
used in these judgement tasks of necessity have P centers. A
P-center hypothesis also can explain dyslexic childrens difficul-
ties in producing speech in time with a metronome and finger-
tapping in time with a metronome or an internally generated
rhythm (35, 36). It further explains why a focus on rhyme and
rhythm in preschool (e.g., clapping out nursery rhymes, which in
effect gives children practice in coordinating a manual rhythm
with the P centers of certain syllables) is important for later
literacy development across languages (37, 38). Note, however,
that the potential P-center deficit in dyslexia is a subtle one. The
deficit is not sufficient to interfere markedly with the acquisition
of spoken language, although spoken-language processing in
metalinguistic tasks remains effortful and slow. More serious
deficits in P-center perception theoretically should cause
spoken- as well as written-language impairments of the kind
found in specific language impairment.
In the current study, two measures of rapid spectrotemporal
integration (RSI) were also administered to the dyslexic children
and their controls. These two tasks were highly correlated and
were both performed poorly by dyslexic children. These tasks
measure the importance of rapid changes in the signal, which
should affect the childs ability to detect changes in speech at the
segmental level (e.g., ‘‘p’’ vs. ‘‘b’’). The beat-detection task
measures the importance of the syllabic information given by
amplitude envelope onsets, which in speech affect suprasegmen-
tal attributes of the vowel onsets. Both aspects of auditory
processing seem to be poor in dyslexic children, but most of the
variance in reading accounted for by the RSI tasks is shared with
beat detection (although not vice versa). As children become
aware of onsets and rimes without being taught to read, we argue
that the ability to process amplitude envelope onsets accurately
may constitute the primary deficit in developmental dyslexia.
Detailed experiments, ideally across languages, are required to
test this hypothesis further.
We thank the children who participated in this research and their schools.
Research at the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street
Hospital benefits from research and development funding received from
the National Health Service Executive.
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www.pnas.orgcgidoi10.1073pnas.122368599 Goswami et al.
... Several works have shown that other perceptual or cognitive deficits may contribute to determining the behavioral performance of dyslexic individuals. These impairments are related to abnormal visual processing [2], impaired phonological abilities [3][4][5][6][7][8], or altered attentional recruitment [9,10]. Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether such deficits represent the core cause of dyslexia or, instead, the behavioral manifestation of a broader and more profound impairment. ...
... A line of evidence has recently shown that dyslexia symptoms are linked with altered rhythmic perception in the musical domain [11][12][13][14][15][16] and the language domain [17]. Specifically, the impairment of rhythmic abilities in the language domain has been related to an altered sound rise time perception [5,18], which might determine poor phonemic discrimination and, thus, reduced sensitivity to the metrical structure of language as well as altered phonological awareness, which is a typical precursor of reading skills [11,19]. While the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a verse or a sentence represents the metrical structure of language, the pattern of beats in a composition represents the metrical structure of music. ...
... Indeed, both domains (language and music) shared a common structure based on "meter", which arises from whole partitioning and could be represented by a syllable in the case of language and a note in the case of music. In the past decades, a substantive body of research has demonstrated that dyslexia symptoms are linked to altered auditory and visual processing [2][3][4][5][6][7][8] and that early mathematics skills are predictive of later reading achievement [20][21][22][23][24][25]. However, no study to date has directly linked reading impairments to a mathematical form of thinking that relies on a metrical structure, such as proportional reasoning. ...
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Dyslexia has been linked to an altered perception of metrical structures in language, but no study to date has explored the link between reading impairments and other forms of metrical thinking (e.g., proportional reasoning). In the present study, we assessed proportional reasoning in 16 dyslexic children and 16 age-matched controls from 7 to 10 years of age in order to investigate whether dyslexia might be also linked to an altered form of metrical thinking. We found that dyslexic children are less accurate in performing judgments about proportionality compared to typical peers and that reading accuracy correlates with proportional reasoning abilities for 7–8-year-old children. Overall, these findings suggest that a link exists between reading and proportional reasoning abilities. We might speculate that fostering reasoning based on the meter can facilitate reading because it permits the segmentation of words in syllables and that dyslexia can be identified early with alternative non-reading tasks such as the proportional reasoning task used in this work.
... A key acoustic feature for speech comprehension are amplitude modulations, specifically amplitude rises, which cue speech structure at phrasal and syllabic levels (9). Indeed, a large body of work has found impaired processing of amplitude rises in DD (10)(11)(12)(13)(14). Furthermore, DD sometimes show deficits in the perception of speech in noisy backgrounds, which is more challenging than under optimal listening conditions and might require more precise phoneme representations (15,16). ...
... In fact, rise time discrimination deficits in children and adults with DD are well-documented and among the most robust auditory deficits in DD (6,13,14). Prior studies also found that rise time deficits were related to reading and phonological awareness (12,13,45,46). Our results are in line with those studies, showing that rise time deficits are direct predictors of reading abilities, beyond variance that can be attributed to phonological abilities. ...
... In fact, rise time discrimination deficits in children and adults with DD are well-documented and among the most robust auditory deficits in DD (6,13,14). Prior studies also found that rise time deficits were related to reading and phonological awareness (12,13,45,46). Our results are in line with those studies, showing that rise time deficits are direct predictors of reading abilities, beyond variance that can be attributed to phonological abilities. ...
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Developmental dyslexia (DD) is typically associated with difficulties in manipulating speech sounds and, sometimes, in basic auditory processing. However, the neuroanatomical correlates of auditory difficulties in DD and their contribution to individual clinical phenotypes are still unknown. Recent intracranial electrocorticography (ECoG) findings associated processing of sound amplitude rises and speech sounds with posterior and middle superior temporal gyrus (STG), respectively. We hypothesize that regional STG anatomy will relate to specific auditory abilities in DD and that auditory processing abilities will relate to behavioral difficulties. One hundred and ten children (78 DD, 32 typically developing, age 7-15 years) completed amplitude rise time (ART) and speech in noise discrimination (SiN) tasks. They also underwent a battery of cognitive tests. Anatomical MRI scans were used to identify regions in which local cortical gyrification complexity correlated with auditory tasks in DD. Behaviorally, ART but not SiN performance was impaired in DD. Neurally, ART and SiN performance correlated with gyrification in posterior STG and middle STG, respectively. Furthermore, ART significantly contributed to reading impairments in DD, while SiN explained variance in phonological awareness only. Finally, ART and SiN performance was not correlated, and each task was correlated with distinct neuropsychological measures, such that distinct DD subgroups could be identified. Overall, we provide a direct link between the neurodevelopment of the left STG and individual variability in auditory processing abilities in DD. The dissociation between speech and non-speech deficits supports distinct DD phenotypes and implicates different approaches to interventions. Significance statement The capacity to read is crucial for human development yet challenging for individuals with developmental dyslexia (DD). Individuals with DD show a range of auditory and speech processing deficits. We tested non-speech and speech processing abilities in DD and typically developing children, and combined them with measures of neuroanatomical structure in the human auditory speech cortex on the superior temporal gyrus (STG). This unique combination revealed a behavioral and neuroanatomical dissociation between the speech and non-speech processing. Each task was uniquely related to a subdivision of the STG, and a distinct set of cognitive abilities. Our findings contribute to the understanding of auditory processing deficits in dyslexia and have clinical implications for individual phenotypes of individuals with DD.
... However, this theory is not universally accepted as an explanation for the underlying causes of dyslexia. Regarding the possible deficits of children with dyslexia in processing dynamic auditory stimuli, such as amplitude (AM) and frequency modulations (FM) in a speech signal (e.g., Goswami et al., 2002;Witton et al., 2002), the findings of the relevant studies are inconclusive. That is, some studies have shown that different tasks measuring the perception of amplitude envelope onsets, such as amplitude rise time discrimination (ARTD) tasks, can tap into the exact underlying impaired perceptual mechanism in children with dyslexia (e.g., Goswami et al., 2002;Muneaux et al., 2004;Richardson et al., 2004). ...
... Regarding the possible deficits of children with dyslexia in processing dynamic auditory stimuli, such as amplitude (AM) and frequency modulations (FM) in a speech signal (e.g., Goswami et al., 2002;Witton et al., 2002), the findings of the relevant studies are inconclusive. That is, some studies have shown that different tasks measuring the perception of amplitude envelope onsets, such as amplitude rise time discrimination (ARTD) tasks, can tap into the exact underlying impaired perceptual mechanism in children with dyslexia (e.g., Goswami et al., 2002;Muneaux et al., 2004;Richardson et al., 2004). For example, ARTD has been found to account for 8-13% (Goswami et al., 2002) to 22% of unique variance in phonological processing (Richardson et al., 2004) and for 25% (Goswami et al., 2002) to 36% of unique variance in reading or spelling (Muneaux et al., 2004). ...
... That is, some studies have shown that different tasks measuring the perception of amplitude envelope onsets, such as amplitude rise time discrimination (ARTD) tasks, can tap into the exact underlying impaired perceptual mechanism in children with dyslexia (e.g., Goswami et al., 2002;Muneaux et al., 2004;Richardson et al., 2004). For example, ARTD has been found to account for 8-13% (Goswami et al., 2002) to 22% of unique variance in phonological processing (Richardson et al., 2004) and for 25% (Goswami et al., 2002) to 36% of unique variance in reading or spelling (Muneaux et al., 2004). Other studies have failed to replicate these findings in at least some respect. ...
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The Conference at the University of Oviedo, Spain, within the 44th Annual Meeting of the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities, was an excellent opportunity to share knowledge, explore perspectives and reflect on the study of neurodevelopmental disorders in Europe and elsewhere in the world. The William M. Cruickshank Memorial Keynote Address, New Directions in the Study of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, covered a broad range of topics relevant to cognition, intelligence, and achievement. It also provided the opportunity to present parts of our current work pertinent to the study of neurodevelopmental dysfunctions and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action (MSCA) ITN Neo-PRISM-C project. The presentation began by focusing on what we study and how and why we study what we study about neurodevelopmental disorders. This was followed by a discussion about the brain and (learning) behaviour, accompanied by some relevant evidence on the neurological basis for reading difficulties, particularly the phonological and visual deficits pathways in the framework of the magnocellular deficit theory. The session concluded with a discussion of the comorbidity of various disorders and the use of the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) framework as an alternative to the traditional diagnostic categories for the study of neurodevelopmental disorders. Examples of how neuroscience research can contribute to this endeavour were also provided.
... Az első szint a szótagszint, a második a fonémaszint (Blomert-Csépe 2012). Diszlexiásoknál kimutatták, hogy a beszédritmus megfelelő percepciója nem alakul ki; ez a szótagszintű információ kivonásának a deficitjét is eredményezi, vagyis a fonológiai feldolgozás nehezített marad (Goswami et al. 2002). Leong és Goswami (2014) kutatásukban igazolták, hogy a gyenge fonológiai deficit a gyenge beszédritmus-percepcióból származik, azaz a diszlexiások gyengébbek a ritmus felismerésében, mint a tipikusan fejlődő társaik. ...
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A szótagtudat fejlesztése óvodás-, illetve kisiskoláskorban Az olvasástanulás kognitív összetevőivel kapcsolatban számos vizsgálat kimutatta, hogy a fonológiai tudatosság fejlettségi szintje a korai (4-8) életévekben jelentős prediktív hatással bír az olvasástanulás sikerességére. Mégsem lehetünk elégedettek a gyakorlatban bekövetkező változásokkal. Ennek egyik oka az lehet, hogy mennyire vállalja fel az óvoda az iskola-előkészítést. E fonológiai tudatosság szempontjából szenzitív életkor kihasználása a kognitív érettség függvényében a módszerek, illetve ehhez kapcsolódóan az egyes részképességekhez illesztett gyakorlatok nehézségi fokának a megválasztása szempontjából lehet intézmény-, illetve életkorfüggő. A legújabb kutatások alátámasztják a fonológiai tudatosság első szakaszának, a szótagtudat óvodáskori fejlesztésének a szükségességét. Jelen tanulmány célja, hogy bemutassa az óvodás-és a kisiskoláskorban a kognitív fejlettséghez köthető fejlesztési lépéseket, illetve a fonológiai tudatosság fejlesztési feladatainak a spektrumát. Az olvasástanuláshoz szükséges készségek és a fonológiai tudatosság A literációs ismeretek elsajátításához számos készség és kognitív részfolyamat megfelelő működése szükséges. Ilyen készség többek között a beszédészlelés, a beszédmegértés, a verbális, téri-vizuális munkamemória, az intermodális kapcsolatok működése, a vizuális és verbális szerialitás, a hosszú távú verbális és vizuális memória, a ritmusészlelés, az alakállandóság, a rész-egész kapcsolat felismerése, a téri tájékozódás és a figyelem. Az is régóta ismert tény, hogy az olvasáselsajátítás zavarainak a kialakulásában jelentős szerepet játszik a fonológiai feldolgozás zavara. A fonológiai tudatosság nem megfelelő működése akadályozza a sikeres olvasástanulás folyamatát (Fonológiai tudatosságon a szavak belső szerkezetéhez, a fonológiai egységekhez való hozzáférést, felismerést, azonosítást, produkciót, illetve a velük végzett szándékos műveletek, manipulációk végzésének a képességét értjük (Goswami et al. 2005; Csépe 2006). A fonológiai tudatosságot a nyelvi, majd fokozatosan a metanyelvi tudatosság (fonológiai, morfológiai, szemantikai, szintaktikai, pragmatikai tudatosság) részének tekintjük (Adamikné 2002: 89, 261; Lőrik 2006; Jordanidisz 2012). Wolf-Bowers (2000) szerint a fonológiai deficit tipikusan három fő területen manifesztálódik: gyenge fonológiai tudatosság, gyenge verbális munkamemória és a lassú automatikus megnevezés. Ezek egymással kapcsolódhatnak, de egymástól függetlenül is jelentkezhetnek (Mohai-Gereben 2014). A fonológiai tudatosság és az olvasni tanulás között háromféle viszonyt érdemes szem előtt tartani:-a fonológiai tudatosság fejlettségének szintje befolyásolja az olvasást,-a fonológiai tudatosság az olvasás során fejlődik,-fonológiai tudatosság fejlődése és az olvasástanulás eleinte kétirányú; a korai fonológiai tudatosság fejlesztése támogatja a korai szófelismerést, és ez elősegíti a magasabb fokú fonológiai ismeretek fejlődését (Szili 2016).
... The speech AE is a power-weighted average of the amplitude modulations (or speech energy fluctuations) produced at different temporal rates by speakers of human languages (Varnet et al., 2017). TS theory was developed to explain a decade of research studies across languages that indicated impaired perception of AE rise times and impaired amplitude modulation detection for children with dyslexia (e.g., Goswami et al., 2002;see Goswami, 2011, 2015 for reviews). The perceptual effects of rise times in the AE help to create speech rhythm, as when we deliberately speak to a rhythm, the rise times of the vowels in stressed syllables are produced approximately isochronously (Goswami & Leong, 2013;Scott, 1998). ...
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The prevalent "core phonological deficit" model of dyslexia proposes that the reading and spelling difficulties characterizing affected children stem from prior developmental difficulties in processing speech sound structure, for example, perceiving and identifying syllable stress patterns, syllables, rhymes and phonemes. Yet spoken word production appears normal. This suggests an unexpected disconnect between speech input and speech output processes. Here we investigated the output side of this disconnect from a speech rhythm perspective by measuring the speech amplitude envelope (AE) of multisyllabic spoken phrases. The speech AE contains crucial information regarding stress patterns, speech rate, tonal contrasts and intonational information. We created a novel computerized speech copying task in which participants copied aloud familiar spoken targets like “Aladdin.” Seventy‐five children with and without dyslexia were tested, some of whom were also receiving an oral intervention designed to enhance multi‐syllabic processing. Similarity of the child's productions to the target AE was computed using correlation and mutual information metrics. Similarity of pitch contour, another acoustic cue to speech rhythm, was used for control analyses. Children with dyslexia were significantly worse at producing the multi‐syllabic targets as indexed by both similarity metrics for computing the AE. However, children with dyslexia were not different from control children in producing pitch contours. Accordingly, the spoken production of multisyllabic phrases by children with dyslexia is atypical regarding the AE. Children with dyslexia may not appear to listeners to exhibit speech production difficulties because their pitch contours are intact. Research Highlights Speech production of syllable stress patterns is atypical in children with dyslexia. Children with dyslexia are significantly worse at producing the amplitude envelope of multi‐syllabic targets compared to both age‐matched and reading‐level‐matched control children. No group differences were found for pitch contour production between children with dyslexia and age‐matched control children. It may be difficult to detect speech output problems in dyslexia as pitch contours are relatively accurate.
... This predictive signaling by an adaptive internal clock can prevent losing the important spectral information contained close to the syllable onset. The existence of such intrinsic clock is also consistent with a phenomenon often related to in speech perception: that of perceptual center (Pcenter 95,96 ). The P-center of a signal, such as a syllable, corresponds to its "psychological moment of occurrence" 95 . ...
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Sensory information is coded in space and in time. The organization of neuronal activity in space maintains straightforward relationships with the spatial organization of the perceived environment. In contrast, the temporal organization of neuronal activity is not trivially related to external features due to sensor motion. Still, the temporal organization shares similar principles across sensory modalities. Likewise, thalamocortical circuits exhibit common features across senses. Focusing on touch, vision, and audition, we review their shared coding principles and suggest that thalamocortical systems include circuits that allow analogous recoding mechanisms in all three senses. These thalamocortical circuits constitute oscillations-based phase-locked loops, that translate temporally-coded sensory information to rate-coded cortical signals, signals that can integrate information across sensory and motor modalities. The loop also allows predictive locking to the onset of future modulations of the sensory signal. The paper thus suggests a theoretical framework in which a common thalamocortical mechanism implements temporal demodulation across senses.
... In addition, sensitivity to speech rhythm in pre-school children has predicted unique variance in reading skills 1 year later, after controlling for phonemic awareness (Holliman et al., 2010a). There has been reports suggesting that children with developmental dyslexia have impairments in suprasegmental phonology (Goswami et al., 2002;Whalley & Hansen, 2006;Wood & Terrell, 1998). Since suprasegmental phonology is an important cue for sublexical units, reduced sensitivity may lead to failure in establishing robust phonological awareness, resulting in reading impairment in alphabetic languages. ...
Recent research indicates that awareness of the prosodic information present in spoken language could be an important factor for literacy development, and that adults with developmental dyslexia show impaired awareness of lexical prosodic information, while the phonological representations remain intact. We investigated lexical prosodic representation and awareness in Japanese children with and without developmental dyslexia. Lexical prosodic representation was investigated using a cross-modal fragment priming task, and awareness was examined using a fragment identification task. The task was modified for children by selecting words with higher familiarity and fewer trials. As a result, the same pattern of prosodic priming effects was observed between groups; lexical decision time was faster in the prosodic congruent condition than in the incongruent condition. In addition, accuracy and reaction time did not show group differences in the fragment identification task. Relationship between prosody and literacy development may differ between languages but the sample size were small in both groups. Further investigation with larger sample size is required.
... A possible interpretation may be that musical rhythm is a valuable perceptual cue to the syllabic structure within an utterance of the language. Young children tend to exploit this characteristic to perceive the suprasegmental patterns of their native languages and to produce proto syllables (Goswami et al., 2002). This relationship between reproductions of vocabulary and musical rhythm might also affecting each other, as our results of expressive vocabulary knowledge exhibited. ...
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Numerous studies have evidenced the relationship between musical rhythm and language performances, derived from temporal acoustic signal processing. This relationship might be affected by different language experiences. Receptive and expressive vocabulary knowledge, phonological awareness, and musical rhythm perception and production were examined in Chinese-speaking (n = 112) and English-speaking preschoolers (n = 73), by using standardized or self-designed linguistic assessments, and musical rhythm discrimination and tapping tests. Generally,results evidenced a cross-language association between musical rhythm performance and vocabulary knowledge in preschoolers. Significant associations were found between receptive vocabulary knowledge and musical rhythm perception as well as production skills in Chinese-speaking pre-schoolers; while Chinese expressive vocabulary knowledge was only associated with musical rhythm production but not perception. As for the English-speaking fellows, both receptive and expressive vocabulary knowledge showed significant association with musical rhythm perception and production skills. Additionally, hierarchical regression analyses were implemented to explore the contribution of phonological awareness and musical rhythm performance towards vocabulary knowledge. Results exhibited that musical rhythm production skills effectively predicted the expressive vocabulary knowledge in Chinese-speaking preschoolers, whilst musical rhythm perception skills predicted the receptive vocabulary knowledge in English-speaking fellows. To note, none of any musical rhythm significantly predicted Chinese receptive vocabulary knowledge and English expressive vocabulary knowledge, suggesting a possible mediation role of phonological awareness to rhythm-vocabulary relationship. Our findings provide cross-language evidence for the robustness of the rhythm-language relationship and possible predictive effect between musical rhythm and specific vocabulary knowledge.
This book examines the young science of psycholinguistics, which attempts to uncover the mechanisms and representations underlying human language. This interdisciplinary field has seen massive developments over the past decade, with a broad expansion of the research base, and the incorporation of new experimental techniques such as brain imaging and computational modelling. The result is that real progress is being made in the understanding of the key components of language in the mind. This book brings together the views of seventy-five leading researchers to provide a review of the current state of the art in psycholinguistics. The contributors are eminent in a wide range of fields, including psychology, linguistics, human memory, cognitive neuroscience, bilingualism, genetics, development, and neuropsychology. Their contributions are organised into six themed sections, covering word recognition, the mental lexicon, comprehension and discourse, language production, language development, and perspectives on psycholinguistics.
There are various ways to measure the beat of an auditory unit. These different methods yield consistent results so that the beat can be considered a well-defined attribute of an auditory unit. Beats and beat locations in music and in speech are discussed, as well as their definition in time, their strength, and their ambiguity. The role of increments in intensity and modulations in F0 is indicated. Several computational models of beat detection are described and discussed.
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The relationship between sensory sensitivity and reading performance was examined to test the hypothesis that the orthographic and phonological skills engaged in visual word recognition are constrained by the ability to detect dynamic visual and auditory events. A test battery using sensory psychophysics, psychometric tests, and measures of component literacy skills was administered to 32 unselected 10-year-old primary school children. The results suggest that children's sensitivity to both dynamic auditory and visual stimuli are related to their literacy skills. Importantly, after controlling for intelligence and overall reading ability, visual motion sensitivity explained independent variance in orthographic skill but not phonological ability, and auditory FM sensitivity covaried with phonological skill but not orthographic skill. These results support the hypothesis that sensitivity at detecting dynamic stimuli influences normal children's reading skills. Vision and audition separately may affect the ability to extract orthographic and phonological information during reading.
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The authors compared the effects of 3 kindergarten intervention programs on at-risk children's subsequent reading and spelling skills. From a sample of 726 screened kindergarten children, 138 were selected as children potentially at risk for dyslexia and randomly assigned to 1 of 3 training conditions: (a) letter-sound training, (b) phonological awareness training, and (c) combined training in phonological awareness and letter knowledge. A control group of 115 unselected ("normal") kindergarten children was recruited to evaluate the training effects. Results indicated that the combined training yielded the strongest effects on reading and spelling in Grades 1 and 2. Thus, these findings confirm the phonological linkage hypothesis in that combining phonological awareness training with instruction in letter-sound knowledge has more powerful effects on subsequent literacy achievement than phonological awareness training alone. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Words presented with regular acoustic onsets are not perceptually regular. The requirements for perceived regularity were investigated, and the perceptual center (P-center) of a word was defined as its psychological moment of occurrence. Some properties of these perceptual centers have been empirically determined, and the range of their applicability is sketched. In particular, it is already clear that temporal alignment of P-centers is a relevant variable in dichotic presentation of speech. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Discusses disparate views of the basic unit of seriation in speech. The belief that transcriptions constitute a valid means of investigating units such as phoneme-like segments, which were originally inferred from alphabetic symbols, implies that alphabets arose spontaneously given a natural cognitive predisposition for deriving segments. Suggested compatibility between aspects of speech errors and phonological segments can be questioned on the basis of some inviolate patterns in error sequences. The presumed accuracy of transcriptions is doubtful, as shown by observations of errors captured on X-ray films; in fact, aspects that are crucial to a definition of basic units of seriation may be misrepresented by alphabetic notations. Restricting the debate to psycholinguistic evidence overlooks segmentations which may more aptly define direct relationships between production, perception, and units of speech processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Tested the hypothesis that the experiences that a child has with rhyme before he/she goes to school might have an effect on later success in learning to read and write. Two experimental situations were used: a longitudinal study and an intensive training program in sound categorization or other forms of categorization. 368 children's skills at sound categorization were measured before they started to read and then related to their progress in reading, spelling, and mathematics over 4 yrs. At the end of initial testing and during the 4 yrs Ss' IQ, reading, spelling, and mathematical abilities were tested. There were high correlations between initial sound categorization scores and Ss' reading and spelling over 3 yrs. At the onset of study, 65 Ss who could not read and had low sound-categorization skills were divided into 4 groups. Two received 2 yrs of training in categorizing sounds. Group 1 was taught that the same word shared common beginning, middle, and end sounds with other words and could be categorized in different ways. Group 2 was also taught how each common sound was represented by a letter of the alphabet. The other groups served as controls. Group 3 was taught only that the same word could be classified in several ways. At the end of training, Group 1 was ahead of Group 3 and Group 2 was ahead of Group 1 in reading and spelling. This suggests that training in sound categorization is more effective when it also involves an explicit connection with the alphabet. Results support the hypothesis. (5 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This paper reports the results from a study investigating the level of phonological sensitivity, letter knowledge and reading ability of two groups of children between the ages of 5 and 7 years. One group of children were identified as being fluent readers at the age of 5 years, before they had begun school. These children were paired with a group of children of the same age and vocabulary development but who were not yet reading. The performance of the two groups of children on the tasks measuring phonological sensitivity confirmed the view of Stanovich (1986, 1992) that phonological sensitivity lies on a continuum from shallow to deep. Shallow levels of phonological sensitivity, tapped by rhyming tasks, seem to be necessary for reading to progress whereas deeper levels of sensitivity develop later and have a more reciprocal relationship to reading progress.
Morton, Marcus, and Frankish (1976) defined “perceptual center,” or “P-center,” as a neutral term to describe that which is regular in a perceptually regular sequence of speech sounds. This paper describes a paradigm for the determination of P-center location and the effect of various acoustic parameters on empirically determined P-center locations. It is shown that P-center location is affected by both initial consonant duration and, secondarily, subsequent vowel and consonant duration. A simple two-parameter model involving the duration of the whole stimulus is developed and gives good performance in predicting P-center location. The application of this model to continuous speech is demonstrated. It is suggested that there is little value in attempting to determine any single acoustic or articulatory correlate of P-center location, or in attempting to define P-center location absolutely in time. Rather, these results indicate that P-centers are a property of the whole stimulus and reflect properties of both the production and perception of speech.
The perceptual onset of a musical tone can be defined as the moment in time at which the stimulus is first perceived. In the present experiments, a simple threshold model for the perceptual onset was applied. A paradigm was used in which a sequence of tones had to be adjusted in such a way that the onsets were perceived at equally spaced moments in time. In Experiment 1, the threshold model was applied in a design in which the rise times of the tones were varied. We concluded that the perceptual onsets of the tones can, indeed, be defined as the times at which the envelopes pass a relative threshold of 15 dB below the maximum level of the tones (82 dB). In Experiment 2, the maximum levels of the tones were varied from 37 to 77 dB. The results show that there is a shift in the relative threshold, but that this shift is small relative to the shift in the stimulus level. In Experiment 3, the effect of level above masked threshold on the perceptual onset was investigated in more detail by varying the level of a background noise. The results show that the relative threshold decreases with increasing level above masked threshold. The results from our experiments strongly suggest that the relative threshold is linearly dependent on the level above masked or absolute threshold and that a 7-dB increment of this level results in a 1-dB relative threshold decrement. The threshold model is compared with a current temporal integration model for the perceptual onset of tones. It is shown that our data cannot be adequately explained by temporal integration. Our experimental results suggest that adaptation of the hearing mechanism to a certain relative stimulus level is responsible for perceptual onset. The applicability of our threshold model in various realistic musical situations is discussed.