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Developmental dyslexia is generally believed to result from impaired linguistic processing rather than from deficits in low-level sensory function. Challenging this view, we studied the perception of non-verbal acoustic stimuli and low-level auditory evoked potentials in dyslexic adults. Compared with matched controls, dyslexics were selectively impaired in tasks (frequency discrimination and binaural unmasking) which rely on decoding neural discharges phase-locked to the fine structure of the stimulus. Furthermore, this ability to use phase-locking was related to reading ability. In addition, the evoked potential reflecting phase-locked discharges was significantly smaller in dyslexics. These results demonstrate a low-level auditory impairment in dyslexia traceable to the brainstem nuclei.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Biol Sci

Publication Date





961 - 965


Adult, Auditory Perception, Dyslexia, Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem, Humans