No AccessJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchResearch Article1 Dec 2009

Speech Perception Abilities of Adults With Dyslexia: Is There Any Evidence for a True Deficit?


    This study investigated whether adults with dyslexia show evidence of a consistent speech perception deficit by testing phoneme categorization and word perception in noise.


    Seventeen adults with dyslexia and 20 average readers underwent a test battery including standardized reading, language and phonological awareness tests, and tests of speech perception. Categorization of a pea/bee voicing contrast was evaluated using adaptive identification and discrimination tasks, presented in quiet and in noise, and a fixed-step discrimination task. Two further tests of word perception in noise were presented.


    There were no significant group differences for categorization in quiet or noise, across- and within-category discrimination as measured adaptively, or word perception, but average readers showed better across- and within-category discrimination in the fixed-step discrimination task. Individuals did not show consistent poor performance across related tasks.


    The small number of group differences, and lack of consistent poor individual performance, suggests weak support for a speech perception deficit in dyslexia. It seems likely that at least some poor performances are attributable to nonsensory factors like attention. It may also be that some individuals with dyslexia have speech perceptual acuity that is at the lower end of the normal range and exacerbated by nonsensory factors.


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