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Deviant neural processing of phonotactic probabilities in adults with dyslexia.

During language acquisition in the first year of life, children become sensitive to phonotactic probabilities such as the likelihood of speech sound occurrences in the ambient language. Because this sensitivity is acquired at an early age, the extent to which the neural system that underlies speech processing in adults is tuned to these phonological regularities can reflect difficulties in processing language specific phonological regularities that can persist into adulthood. Here, we examined the neural processing of phonotactic probabilities in 18 adults with dyslexia and 18 non-dyslexic controls using mismatch negativity, a pre-attentive neurophysiological response. Stimuli that differed in phonotactic probability elicited similar mismatch negativity responses among the adults with dyslexia, whereas the controls responded more strongly to stimuli with a high phonotactic probability than to stimuli with a low phonotactic probability, suggesting that controls but not adults with dyslexia are sensitive to the phonological regularities of the ambient language. These findings suggest that the underlying neural system in adults with dyslexia is not properly tuned to language-specific phonological regularities, which may partially account for the phonological deficits that are often reported in dyslexic individuals.