Impaired perception of syllable stress in children with dyslexia: A longitudinal study

Usha Goswami*, Natasha Mead, Tim Fosker, Martina Huss, Lisa Barnes, Victoria Leong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Prosodic patterning is a key structural element of spoken language. However, the potential role of prosodic awareness in the phonological difficulties that characterise children with developmental dyslexia has been little studied. Here we report the first longitudinal study of sensitivity to syllable stress in children with dyslexia, enabling the exploration of predictive factors. An initial cohort of 104 children was recruited. In Experiment 1 (mean age 9. years), participants received a reiterative speech task (DeeDee task) and in Experiment 2 (4. years later, mean age 13. years), they received a direct stress perception task. The children with dyslexia were compared to both younger reading-level matched controls (aged 7. years initially) and to age-matched controls. Children with dyslexia showed impaired sensitivity to syllable stress compared to both reading-level and age-matched controls when aged 9. years, and to age-matched controls only when aged 13. years. The longitudinal predictors of sensitivity to syllable stress were investigated, controlling for prosodic sensitivity at Time 1 as the autoregressor. Measures of auditory sensory processing and sub-lexical phonological awareness were unique longitudinal predictors. Prosodic sensitivity in children was also a significant longitudinal predictor of reading development, accounting for independent variance from sub-lexical phonological sensitivity (rhyme awareness).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory processing
  • Dyslexia
  • Prosodic awareness
  • Syllable stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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