Auditory sensory deficits in developmental dyslexia: A longitudinal ERP study

Gabor Stefanics, Tim Fosker, Martina Huss, Natasha Mead, Denes Szucs, Usha Goswami*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
288 Downloads (Pure)


The core difficulty in developmental dyslexia across languages is a "phonological deficit", a specific difficulty with the neural representation of the sound structure of words. Recent data across languages suggest that this phonological deficit arises in part from inefficient auditory processing of the rate of change of the amplitude envelope at syllable onset (inefficient sensory processing of rise time). Rise time is a complex percept that also involves changes in duration and perceived intensity. Understanding the neural mechanisms that give rise to the phonological deficit in dyslexia is important for optimising educational interventions. In a three-deviant passive 'oddball' paradigm and a corresponding blocked 'deviant-alone' control condition we recorded ERPs to tones varying in rise time, duration and intensity in children with dyslexia and typically developing children longitudinally. We report here results from test Phases 1 and 2, when participants were aged 8-10. years. We found an MMN to duration, but not to rise time nor intensity deviants, at both time points for both groups. For rise time, duration and intensity we found group effects in both the Oddball and Blocked conditions. There was a slower fronto-central P1 response in the dyslexic group compared to controls. The amplitude of the P1 fronto-centrally to tones with slower rise times and lower intensity was smaller compared to tones with sharper rise times and higher intensity in the Oddball condition, for children with dyslexia only. The latency of this ERP component for all three stimuli was shorter on the right compared to the left hemisphere, only for the dyslexic group in the Blocked condition. Furthermore, we found decreased N1c amplitude to tones with slower rise times compared to tones with sharper rise times for children with dyslexia, only in the Oddball condition. Several other effects of stimulus type, age and laterality were also observed. Our data suggest that neuronal responses underlying some aspects of auditory sensory processing may be impaired in dyslexia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-732
Issue number3
Early online date12 Apr 2011
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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