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Numerous studies have shown that, as a group, children or adults with developmental dyslexia perceive isolated syllables or words abnormally. Continuous speech containing reduced acoustic information also might prove perceptually difficult to such listeners. They might, however, exploit the intact syntactic and semantic features present in whole utterances, thereby compensating fully for impaired speech perception. "Sine-wave speech" sentences afford a test of these competing possibilities. The sentences contain only 4 frequency-modulated sine waves, lacking many acoustic cues present in natural speech. Adults with and without dyslexia were asked to orally reproduce 9 sine-wave utterances, each occurring in 4 immediately successive trials. Participants with dyslexia reported fewer words than did control listeners. Practice, phonological contrasts, and word position affected both groups similarly. Comprehension of sine-wave sentences seems impaired in many, but not all, adults with dyslexia. A reduced auditory memory capacity may contribute to this deficit.

Original publication




Journal article


J Speech Lang Hear Res

Publication Date





68 - 79


Adult, Cues, Dyslexia, Educational Measurement, Female, Humans, Male, Phonetics, Psychometrics, Speech Acoustics, Speech Perception