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According to a prominent theory, the phonological difficulties in dyslexia are caused by an underlying general impairment in the ability to process sequences of rapidly presented, brief sounds. Two studies examined this theory by exploring the relationships between rapid auditory processing and phonological processing in a sample of 82 normally reading children (Study 1) and by comparing 17 children with dyslexia to chronological-age and reading-age control participants on these tasks (Study 2). In the normal readers, moderate correlations were found between the measure of rapid auditory processing (Auditory Repetition Task, or ART) and phonological ability. On the ART, the dyslexia group performed at a level similar to that of the reading-age control group but obtained scores that were significantly below those of the chronological-age control group. This difference was due to a subgroup of 4 children in the dyslexia group who had particular difficulty with the ART. The phonological skills of these individuals were not worse than those of the children in the dyslexia group who were unimpaired on the ART. The discussion argues that there is no evidence that phonological difficulties are secondary to impairments of rapid auditory processing, as measured by the ART, and highlights the need to examine the strategic and cognitive demands involved in tasks of rapid auditory processing.


Journal article


Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Publication Date





925 - 940