On the development of low-level auditory discrimination and deficits in dyslexia



Absolute auditory thresholds, frequency resolution and temporal resolution develop with age. It is still discussed whether low-level auditory performance is of clinical significance—specifically, for delayed maturation of central auditory processing. Recently, five new auditory tasks were used to study the development of low-level auditory discrimination. It was found that the development lasts up to the age of 16–18 years (on an average). Very similar tasks were now used with 432 controls and 250 dyslexic subjects in the age range of 7–22 years. For both groups the performance in one of the tasks was not related to the performance in another task indicating that the five tasks challenge independent subfunctions of auditory processing. Surprisingly high numbers of subjects were classified as low performers (LP), because they could not perform one or the other task at its easiest level and no threshold value could be assigned. For the dyslexics the incidence of LP was considerably increased in all tasks and age groups as compared with the age matched controls. The development of dynamic visual and optomotor functions and the corresponding deficits in dyslexia are discussed in relation to the auditory data presented here. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.