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BACKGROUND: Developmental dyslexia is a specific disorder of reading and spelling that affects 3-9% of school-age children and adults. Contrary to the view that it results solely from deficits in processes specific to linguistic analysis, current research has shown that deficits in more basic auditory or visual skills may contribute to the reading difficulties of dyslexic individuals. These might also have a crucial role in the development of normal reading skills. Evidence for visual deficits in dyslexia is usually found only with dynamic and not static stimuli, implicating the magnocellular pathway or dorsal visual stream as the cellular locus responsible. Studies of such a dissociation between the processing of dynamic and static auditory stimuli have not been reported previously. RESULTS: We show that dyslexic individuals are less sensitive both to particular rates of auditory frequency modulation (2 Hz and 40 Hz but not 240 Hz) and to dynamic visual-motion stimuli. There were high correlations, for both dyslexic and normal readers, between their sensitivity to the dynamic auditory and visual stimuli. Nonword reading, a measure of phonological awareness believed crucial to reading development, was also found to be related to these sensory measures. CONCLUSIONS: These results further implicate neuronal mechanisms that are specialised for detecting stimulus timing and change as being dysfunctional in many dyslexic individuals. The dissociation observed in the performance of dyslexic individuals on different auditory tasks suggests a sub-modality division similar to that already described in the visual system. These dynamic tests may provide a non-linguistic means of identifying children at risk of reading failure.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





791 - 797


Acoustic Stimulation, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Auditory Threshold, Child, Dyslexia, Female, Humans, Incidence, Language, Male, Motion Perception, Neurons, Photic Stimulation, Reading, Reference Values, Regression Analysis, Sensory Thresholds