Current Research

The Role of Auditory Resolution in Children with Reading Difficulties


Summary

Children experiencing reading difficulties in the classroom are a heterogeneous group. We believe that a proportion of these children may have an underlying primary deficit in the way that the auditory areas of the brain decode and reassemble the rapidly changing frequency and amplitude components of speech. This skill is essential for accurate speech perception. The ultimate goal of our research is to develop a set of clinical assessment tools that can be used to diagnose auditory-resolution based reading deficits. As such, the research has important implications for developing training and remediation that is specific to individual children.


Details

The overall aim of this project is to investigate the relationship between speech perception and the ability of the central auditory nervous system to process rapidly-changing frequency and amplitude information contained in an incoming acoustic signal. Two diagnostic tools have been developed to identify the subset of children whose reading difficulties are primarily due to problems analysing the auditory components of speech. These tests are the Phoneme Identification Test (PIT; Cameron et al. 2017a) and the Parsing Syllable Envelopes (ParSE) test (Cameron et al. 2017b). We have collected normative data from over 140 typically-developing primary-school children and adults on these tests. We have found that the ability to identify speech sounds in quiet and noise improves significantly with age. In a pilot study, the data on the PIT and ParSE from the typically-developing children has been compared with primary school children with diagnosed reading difficulties. Standard reading and cognitive tests were also administered. We divided the children into three groups based on their reading test results.


Reading study results

• Four children had a non-word only reading deficit (i.e. difficulty sounding out made-up words that they haven’t seen before such as “gop”). To read non-words children need to understand how the letters they see match the speech sounds that they hear in everyday life. All four children with a non-word reading deficit also had an auditory-resolution deficit on the PIT or the ParSE.


• Seven children had difficulty sounding out both non-words and irregular words (i.e. words such as “yacht” that cannot be sounded out and which they have to learn to recognize as a whole word). Four of these children had an auditory-resolution deficit.


• Five children had difficulty reading only irregular words but could sound out non-words. Only one had an auditory-resolution deficit. These results support the hypothesis that an auditory-resolution deficit is associated with difficulties in sounding out words for a subset of children with reading difficulties.


Future research

Plans are now underway to undertake a larger clinical study looking in more depth at the relationship between auditory resolution and reading difficulties.


Other information

A useful explanation of what scientists are learning about what happens in the brain when a child learns to read, and what's different in the brain of someone with dyslexia by Guinevere Eden Ph.D, from the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University Medical Center can be found here: https://www.apmreports.org/story/2017/09/11/what-is-dyslexia-guinevere-eden.


An article from Dr Molly de Lemos in Nomanis magazine, about how children learn to read and how to best teach them, can be found at https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/nomanis/Issue-1-Vol-1/How-children-learn-to-read-A-position-statement-Molly-de-Lemos.pdf.


References

Cameron S, Chong-White N, Mealings K, Beechey T, Dillon H, Young T. (2017a). The Phoneme Identification Test (PIT) for assessment of spectral and temporal discrimination skills in children: Development, normative data and test-retest reliability studies. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology. doi.org/10.3766/jaaa.16145


Cameron S, Chong-White N, Mealings K, Beechey T, Dillon H, Young T. (2017b). The Parsing Syllable Envelopes (ParSE) test for assessment of amplitude modulation discrimination skills in children: Development, normative data and test-retest reliability studies. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology. doi.org/10.3766/jaaa.16146.


 

Auditory assessment pilot EEG Auditory assessment Turramurra PS