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Abstract

Dyslexia is heritable and associated with phonological processing deficits that can be reflected in the event-related potentials (ERPs). Here, we recorded ERPs from 2-month-old infants at risk of dyslexia and from a control group to investigate whether their auditory system processes /bAk/ and /dAk/ changes differently. The speech sounds were presented in an oddball paradigm. The children were followed longitudinally and performed a word reading fluency test in second grade. The infant ERPs were subsequently analyzed according to high or low reading fluency in order to find a neurophysiological precursor of poor reading fluency. The results show that the fluent reading children (from both the at-risk and the control group) processed the speech sound changes differentially in infancy as indicated by a mismatch response (MMR). In the control group the MMR was frontally positive and in the fluent at-risk group the MMR was parietally positive. The non-fluent at-risk group did not show an MMR. We conclude that at-risk children who became fluent readers were better at speech processing in infancy than those who became non-fluent readers. This indicates a very early speech processing deficit in the group of later non-fluent readers.