Do Temporal Processing Deficits Cause Phonological Processing Problems?
This study tested the hypothesis that temporal processing deficits underlie phonological processing problems. The subjects were children aged 8 to 10 years (N=110) who were separated into 2 groups on the basis of whether their reading scores were normal or poor. As predicted by many earlier studies, children with poor reading scores demonstrate poor abilities on tests of phonological awareness, as well as on 2 other language tasks that depend on phonological processing. Two specific tests of the temporal processing hypothesis were conducted. Children in both groups were tested (a) on their abilities to recall sequences of nonspeech tones presented at various rates and (b) on their abilities to make phonetic decisions using brief and transitional properties of the speech signal, especially formant transitions (the purported "trouble spot" in the speech signal for children with phonological processing problems). The children with poor phonological processing abilities showed no special difficulty recalling rapidly presented nonspeech stimuli, and, in their phonetic decisions, they were able to use brief and transitional signal properties, including formant transitions, at least as well as other children. Therefore, no evidence was found to support the hypothesis that temporal processing deficits cause phonological processing problems.