Temporal order and processing acuity of visual, auditory, and tactile perception in developmentally dyslexic young adults

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2001 Dec;1(4):394-410. doi: 10.3758/cabn.1.4.394.


We studied the temporal acuity of 16 developmentally dyslexic young adults in three perceptual modalities. The control group consisted of 16 age- and IQ-matched normal readers. Two methods were used. In the temporal order judgment (TOJ) method, the stimuli were spatially separate fingertip indentations in the tactile system, tone bursts of different pitches in audition, and light flashes in vision. Participants indicated which one of two stimuli appeared first. To test temporal processing acuity (TPA), the same 8-msec nonspeech stimuli were presented as two parallel sequences of three stimulus pulses. Participants indicated, without order judgments, whether the pulses of the two sequences were simultaneous or nonsimultaneous. The dyslexic readers were somewhat inferior to the normal readers in all six temporal acuity tasks on average. Thus, our results agreed with the existence of a pansensory temporal processing deficit associated with dyslexia in a language with shallow orthography (Finnish) and in well-educated adults. The dyslexic and normal readers' temporal acuities overlapped so much, however, that acuity deficits alone would not allow dyslexia diagnoses. It was irrelevant whether or not the acuity task required order judgments. The groups did not differ in the nontemporal aspects of our experiments. Correlations between temporal acuity and reading-related tasks suggested that temporal acuity is associated with phonological awareness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis
  • Dyslexia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Perceptual Disorders / diagnosis
  • Perceptual Disorders / psychology*
  • Pitch Perception*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reference Values
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Serial Learning*
  • Time Perception*
  • Touch*
  • Visual Perception*