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Perceptual discrimination of speech sounds in developmental dyslexia

In order to investigate the relationship between categorical perception and dyslexia, as well as the nature of this categorization deficit, speech specific or not, the discrimination responses of 19 children who have dyslexia and those of 17 average readers (all Ss were aged 13 yrs) to sinewave analogues of speech sounds were compared. These analogues were presented in 2 different conditions, either as nonspeech whistles or as speech sounds. Results showed that children with dyslexia are less categorical than average readers in the speech condition, mainly because they are better at discriminating acoustic differences between stimuli belonging to the same category. In the nonspeech condition, discrimination was also better for children with dyslexia, but differences in categorical perception were less clear-cut. Further, the location of the categorical boundary on the stimulus continuum differed between speech and nonspeech conditions. This study shows that categorical deficit in children with dyslexia results primarily from an increased perceptibility of within-category differences and that it has a speech-specific component. These findings may have profound implications for learning and re-education. The experimental instructions are appended. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)



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