Comorbidity and cognitive overlap between developmental dyslexia and congenital amusia in children

Neuropsychologia. 2021 May 14:155:107811. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2021.107811. Epub 2021 Feb 26.

Abstract

Developmental dyslexia and congenital amusia are two specific neurodevelopmental disorders that affect reading and music perception, respectively. Similarities at perceptual, cognitive, and anatomical levels raise the possibility that a common factor is at play in their emergence, albeit in different domains. However, little consideration has been given to what extent they can co-occur. A first adult study suggested a 30% amusia rate in dyslexia and a 25% dyslexia rate in amusia (Couvignou et al., Cognitive Neuropsychology 2019). We present newly acquired data from 38 dyslexic and 38 typically developing children. These were assessed with literacy and phonological tests, as well as with three musical tests: the Montreal Battery of Evaluation of Musical Abilities, a pitch and time change detection task, and a singing task. Overall, about 34% of the dyslexic children were musically impaired, a proportion that is significantly higher than both the estimated 1.5-4% prevalence of congenital amusia in the general population and the rate of 5% observed within the control group. They were mostly affected in the pitch dimension, both in terms of perception and production. Correlations and prediction links were found between pitch processing skills and language measures after partialing out confounding factors. These findings are discussed with regard to cognitive and neural explanatory hypotheses of a comorbidity between dyslexia and amusia.

Keywords: Congenital amusia; Developmental dyslexia; Literacy; Music perception; Phonology; Singing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perceptual Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Comorbidity
  • Dyslexia* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Music*
  • Pitch Perception