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Psychon Bull Rev. 1995 Dec;2(4):508-14. doi: 10.3758/BF03210986.

Auditory temporal perception deficits in the reading-impaired: A critical review of the evidence.

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Haskins Laboratories, 270 Crown St., 06511-6695, New Haven, CT,


We assess evidence and arguments brought forward by Tallal (e.g., 1980) and by the target paper (Farmer & Klein, 1995) for a general deficit in auditory temporal perception as the source of phonological deficits in impaired readers. We argue that (1) errors in temporal order judgment of both syllables and tones reflect difficulty in identifying similar (and so readily confusable) stimuli rapidly, not in judging their temporal order; (2) difficulty in identifying similar syllables or tones rapidly stem from independent deficits in speech and nonspeech discriminative capacity, not from a general deficit in rate of auditory perception; and (3) the results of dichotic experiments and studies of aphasics purporting to demonstrate left-hemisphere specialization for nonspeech auditory temporal perception are inconclusive. The paper supports its arguments with data from a recent control study. We conclude that, on the available evidence, the phonological deficit of impaired readers cannot be traced to any co-occurring nonspeech deficits so far observed and is phonetic in origin, but that its full nature, origin, and extent remain to be determined.


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