Tuesday, August 16, 2011

People With Dyslexia Have Difficulty Not Just Reading Words, But Recognizing Voices

While most people think of dyslexia as primarily a problem with reading, people with dyslexia seem to have trouble processing the spoken language, as well. A new study published last week Science found that people with dyslexia have a harder time recognizing voices than other people do.
How the Heck:
  • Participants in the study–half of whom were dyslexic–watched and listened to cartoon characters on a computer. Each character had a distinct voice, and spoke either English, the participants’ native language, or Mandarin Chinese.
  • The participants were then played a clip of each voice and asked to match it to the correct character.
  • People without reading difficulties were better at recognizing voices speaking their native language. They could correctly pick out which character went with a voice about two-thirds of the time if the voice was speaking English, and only about half the time if it was speaking Mandarin.
  • Dyslexics, on the other hand, showed no native language boost. It didn’t matter if a voice was speaking English or Mandarin: they correctly matched it with a character around half the time either way.
What’s the Context:
The Future Holds:
Reference: Tyler K. Perrachione, Stephanie N. Del Tufo, & John D. E. Gabrieli. “Human Voice Recognition Depends on Language Ability.” Science, July 29, 2011. DOI: 10.1126/science.1207327

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