The perception of "sine-wave speech" by adults with developmental dyslexia

Burton S. Rosner*, Joel B. Talcott, Caroline Witton, James D. Hogg, Alexandra J. Richardson, Peter C. Hansen, John F. Stein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous studies have shown that, as a group, children or adults with developmental dyslexia perceive isolated syllables or words abnormally. Continuous speech containing reduced acoustic information also might prove perceptually difficult to such listeners. They might, however, exploit the intact syntactic and semantic features present in whole utterances, thereby compensating fully for impaired speech perception. "Sine-wave speech" sentences afford a test of these competing possibilities. The sentences contain only 4 frequency-modulated sine waves, lacking many acoustic cues present in natural speech. Adults with and without dyslexia were asked to orally reproduce 9 sine-wave utterances, each occurring in 4 immediately successive trials. Participants with dyslexia reported fewer words than did control listeners. Practice, phonological contrasts, and word position affected both groups similarly. Comprehension of sine-wave sentences seems impaired in many, but not all, adults with dyslexia. A reduced auditory memory capacity may contribute to this deficit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-79
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2003


  • Dyslexia
  • Memory
  • Sine-wave speech
  • Speech perception


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