Short-term adaptation to sound statistics is unimpaired in developmental dyslexia

Yafit Gabay, Lori L. Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developmental dyslexia is presumed to arise from phonological impairments. Accordingly, people with dyslexia show speech perception deficits taken as indication of impoverished phonological representations. However, the nature of speech perception deficits in those with dyslexia remains elusive. Specifically, there is no agreement as to whether speech perception deficits arise from speech-specific processing impairments, or from general auditory impairments that might be either specific to temporal processing or more general. Recent studies show that general auditory referents such as Long Term Average Spectrum (LTAS, the distribution of acoustic energy across the duration of a sound sequence) affect speech perception. Here we examine the impact of preceding target sounds’ LTAS on phoneme categorization to assess the nature of putative general auditory impairments associated with dyslexia. Dyslexic and typical listeners categorized speech targets varying perceptually from /ga/-/da/ preceded by speech and nonspeech tone contexts varying. Results revealed a spectrally contrastive influence of the preceding context LTAS on speech categorization, with a larger magnitude effect for nonspeech compared to speech precursors. Importantly, there was no difference in the presence or magnitude of the effects across dyslexia and control groups. These results demonstrate an aspect of general auditory processing that is spared in dyslexia, available to support phonemic processing when speech is presented in context.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0198146
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01DC004674) to LLH. The authors thank Christi Gomez for her assistance. The research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01DC004674) to LLH. Correspondence may be addressed to LLH, [email protected] or YG, [email protected].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Gabay, Holt. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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