The role of speech perception in the phonological awareness of poor readers

  • Patrick Stark

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Phonological awareness is a crucial component of reading development and a phonological deficit has been consistently found in poor readers. Studies of the auditory processing abilities of poor readers. however. have found conflicting evidence of deficits for perceiving either fast or slow rates of acoustic change, both of which may act as cues for speech perception. The aim of the present research was to investigate if a difference exists between poor readers' and normal readers' processing of the acoustic cues within speech in PA tasks and if this contributes to poor readers' phonological deficit. The studies presented in this thesis used various methods to modify the speech in phonological awareness tasks. These tasks were administered to groups of poor readers. chronologically age matched controls and reading age matched controls. Slow fluctuations in noise masking of speech in a PA task were found to impair PA performance more so than fast fluctuations in noise masking. although the latter may provide benefits for response speed. Typically developing children were found to be sensitive to the temporal degradation of speech in a PA task when the words were compressed to 50%, while the poor reading children were not. When this was followed longitudinally, the younger controls developed to display the same sensitivity to temporal degradation that the older controls had displayed the previous year. A study of. processing differences between dyslexic adults and normal readers (measured using event related potentials) found that dyslexic adults experience difficulties in processing speech tokens and words during a PA task in addition to their impairment for phonological segmentation .. The findings of the present.studies allowed a model of the development of sensitivity to acoustic cues in speech to be presented in the general discussion. alongside an overview of the evidence for differences in how poor and normal readers may process speech in PA tasks.
Date of AwardDec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorTim Fosker (Supervisor)

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