Determinants of Reading Ability in Dyslexia: Auditory-Visual Speech Perception and Native Language Attunement

Determinants of Reading Ability in Dyslexia: Auditory-Visual Speech Perception and Native Language Attunement

First Author: Ms. Ella Barnett -- Western Sydney University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Benjawan Kasisopa ; Denis Burnham
Keywords: Auditory processing, Dyslexia, Face processing, early identification, Reading development
Abstract / Summary: 

There are three concurrent developments in 6-year-old English language children: (i) increased visual influence in auditory-visual speech perception (Sekiyama & Burnham, 2008); (ii) auditory-visual speech perception is predicted by the degree of perceptual attunement (native > non-native speech perception); and (iii) perceptual attunement increases, with degree of increase related to reading (Burnham, 2003). A common element in auditory-visual and native/non-native speech perception is that both involve attention to information that assists speech perception, which in turn would aid phoneme-to-grapheme coding in reading. In this study we investigated the relationship between perceptual attunement, auditory-visual speech perception, and reading in dyslexic and control children. English language 6- to 12-year-olds (16 dyslexic, 16 age-matched controls) were given three test sets with results as follows: (i) auditory-visual speech perception (visual /ga/ - auditory /ba/ McGurk illusion) – controls showed greater visual influence (greater reduction of auditory responses from congruent to incongruent auditory-visual combinations) than dyslexics; (ii) native vs non-native discrimination (of bilabial stop consonants) – both groups had equally superior native over non-native speech perception; and (iii) TOWRE 2 Sight Word and also Phonemic Decoding Efficiency, rapid picture naming, phoneme deletion, and rhythm reproduction – controls better than dyslexics on all tasks. In regression analyses, once age and gender were partialled out, word reading was predicted only by phoneme deletion, whereas non-word reading was predicted by phoneme deletion, visual influence, and group (better for control group). Thus text decoding (non-word) but not sight (word) reading is related to attention to visual speech information and dyslexia status, suggesting that visual speech perception training would be a useful addition to intervention for children with, or at risk of dyslexia.