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Brain. 2007 Nov;130(Pt 11):2915-28. Epub 2007 Oct 5.

Auditory processing disorder in children with reading disabilities: effect of audiovisual training.

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Université de Lyon, Lyon, F-69003, France.


Reading disability is associated with phonological problems which might originate in auditory processing disorders. The aim of the present study was 2-fold: first, the perceptual skills of average-reading children and children with dyslexia were compared in a categorical perception task assessing the processing of a phonemic contrast based on voice onset time (VOT). The medial olivocochlear (MOC) system, an inhibitory pathway functioning under central control, was also explored. Secondly, we investigated whether audiovisual training focusing on voicing contrast could modify VOT sensitivity and, in parallel, induce MOC system plasticity. The results showed an altered voicing sensitivity in some children with dyslexia, and that the most severely impaired children presented the most severe reading difficulties. These deficits in VOT perception were sometimes accompanied by MOC function abnormalities, in particular a reduction in or even absence of the asymmetry in favour of the right ear found in average-reading children. Audiovisual training significantly improved reading and shifted the categorical perception curve of certain children with dyslexia towards the average-reading children's pattern of voicing sensitivity. Likewise, in certain children MOC functioning showed increased asymmetry in favour of the right ear following audiovisual training. The training-related improvements in reading score were greatest in children presenting the greatest changes in MOC lateralization. Taken together, these results confirm the notion that some auditory system processing mechanisms are impaired in children with dyslexia and that audiovisual training can diminish these deficits.

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