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    Attentional modulation of neural sound tracking in children with and without dyslexia

    Guerra, Giada and Tierney, Adam and Tijm, J. and Vaessen, A. and Bonte, M. and Dick, Fred (2023) Attentional modulation of neural sound tracking in children with and without dyslexia. Developmental Science , ISSN 1363-755x.

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    Auditory selective attention forms an important foundation of children's learning by enabling the prioritisation and encoding of relevant stimuli. It may also influence reading development, which relies on metalinguistic skills including the awareness of the sound structure of spoken language. Reports of attentional impairments and speech perception difficulties in noisy environments in dyslexic readers are also suggestive of the putative contribution of auditory attention to reading development. To date, it is unclear whether non-speech selective attention and its underlying neural mechanisms are impaired in children with dyslexia and to which extent these deficits relate to individual reading and speech perception abilities in suboptimal listening conditions. In this EEG study, we assessed non-speech sustained auditory selective attention in 106 7-to-12-year-old children with and without dyslexia. Children attended to one of two tone streams, detecting occasional sequence repeats in the attended stream, and performed a speech-in-speech perception task. Results show that when children directed their attention to one stream, inter-trial-phase-coherence at the attended rate increased in fronto-central sites; this, in turn, was associated with better target detection. Behavioural and neural indices of attention did not systematically differ as a function of dyslexia diagnosis. However, behavioural indices of attention did explain individual differences in reading fluency and speech-in-speech perception abilities: both these skills were impaired in dyslexic readers. Taken together, our results show that children with dyslexia do not show group-level auditory attention deficits but these deficits may represent a risk for developing reading impairments and problems with speech perception in complex acoustic environments.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Adam Tierney
    Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2023 15:31
    Last Modified: 28 Sep 2023 15:35


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