The role of central auditory processing in reading skill development and reading disorders is unclear. The purpose of this study was to examine whether individuals with specific reading disabilities (SRD) have deficits in processing rapidly presented, serially ordered non-speech auditory signals. To this end, we compared 12 children with SRD and 12 children without SRD on their ability to detect differences and similarities in pure tones of 1000 and 2000 Hz when these signals were presented in pairs (same or different tones, randomly ordered) with short (50 ms) versus long (500 ms) inter-stimulus intervals (ISI). Results showed that the children with SRD had significant difficulty in discriminating between pure tones with short, but not long ISI, whereas the controls performed well with both short and long ISI. The two groups did not differ significantly on measures of attention (d2) and performance IQ, and there were no significant correlations between these measures and ISI performance. There were significant correlations between the short ISI performance and phonologic awareness test results when the two groups were combined. These findings support the specific rapid auditory processing deficit hypothesis of SRD. Examination of intra-subject variability in performance indicated that children from the SRD group showed both decrement in performance with time on task and high overall variability in performance as compared to the controls. These findings underpin the importance of using time-series analyses of performance.
Copyright (c) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.