Although allophonic speech processing has been hypothesized to be a contributing factor in developmental dyslexia, experimental evidence is limited and inconsistent. The current study compared the categorization of native similar sounding vowels of typically developing (TD) children and children at familial risk (FR) of dyslexia. EEG response was collected in a non-attentive passive oddball paradigm from 35 TD and 35 FR Dutch 20-month-old infants who were matched on vocabulary. The children were presented with two nonwords “giep” [ɣip] and “gip” [ɣIp] that contrasted solely with respect to the vowel. In the multiple-speaker condition, both nonwords were produced by twelve different speakers while in the single-speaker condition, single tokens of each word were used as stimuli. For both conditions and for both groups, infant positive mismatch response (p-MMR) was elicited, and the p-MMR amplitude was comparable between the two groups, although the FR children had a later p-MMR peak than the TD children in the multiple-speaker condition. These findings indicate that FR children are able to categorize speech sounds, but that they may do so in a more effortful way than TDs.
Chen, A. Later but Not Weaker: Neural Categorization of Native Vowels of Children at Familial Risk of Dyslexia. Brain Sci. 2022, 12, 412. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci12030412