Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dyslexia: Recognising accents and voices can be difficult

People with dyslexia may not notice how people pronounce words differently, something that makes voice recognition possible, U.S. researchers say.

Tyler Perrachione, a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says even though all people who speak a language use the same words, they say those words just a little bit differently from one another -- what is called phonetics in linguistics.

Listeners are sensitive to phonetic differences as part of what makes a person's voice unique, but individuals with dyslexia have trouble recognizing phonetic differences, whether a person is speaking a familiar language or a foreign one, Perrachione says.

The MIT scientists trained people with and without dyslexia to recognize the voices of people speaking either the listeners' native language of English or an unfamiliar foreign language, Mandarin Chinese.

The neuroscientists found people with dyslexia were significantly worse at being able to consistently recognize the voices of the English speakers, but they were about the same as listeners without dyslexia at recognizing the Chinese voices. Both groups were very poor at recognizing voices speaking an unfamiliar language, Perrachione says.

The finding, published in Science, reaffirms the theory that the underlying deficit in dyslexia isn't about the act of reading per se, but instead involves difficulty with how sounds of spoken language are heard and processed in the dyslexic brain.


  1. Interesting .I am 53 years old and recently realised I have probably always beenndislexic, but some symptoms see recently to be getting worse, one of which is I am now struggling to recognise where people are from. I am a musician and used tobe really good at spotting even the hint of a regional accent, now Ai really have to wrack my brains to remember what accents people have, or I mis them. Happened today..sat talking to this like, I noticed head a funny accent, though the might be welsh, my partner on leaving said, oh he is Dutch, and Aihadnit spotted it which was unnerving as I lived in holland years ago......can dyslexic symptoms get worse as you get older?

  2. Thanks for your comment Jessica and there is evidence that dyslexia can appear to become more difficult to deal with as we age but our other cognitive abilities also deteriorate as we age.

    If you are concerned about your condition deteriorating over time, speak to your doctor and explain the situation fully.

    To try and assist you and others with this concern, we will seek out some recent research on Aging and Dyslexia and post these over the coming weeks.

    I hope you will let us know how you get on.