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Category learning in dyslexia (Roark et al., 2024)

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posted on 2024-02-14, 18:04 authored by Casey L. Roark, Vishal Thakkar, Bharath Chandrasekaran, Tracy M. Centanni

Purpose: Developmental dyslexia is proposed to involve selective procedural memory deficits with intact declarative memory. Recent research in the domain of category learning has demonstrated that adults with dyslexia have selective deficits in information–integration (II) category learning that is proposed to rely on procedural learning mechanisms and unaffected Rule-Based (RB) category learning that is proposed to rely on declarative, hypothesis testing mechanisms. Importantly, learning mechanisms also change across development, with distinct developmental trajectories in both procedural and declarative learning mechanisms. It is unclear how dyslexia in childhood should influence auditory category learning, a critical skill for speech perception and reading development.

Method: We examined auditory category learning performance and strategies in 7- to 12-year-old children with dyslexia (n = 25; nine females, 16 males) and typically developing controls (n = 25; 13 females, 12 males). Participants learned nonspeech auditory categories of spectrotemporal ripples that could be optimally learned with either RB selective attention to the temporal modulation dimension or procedural integration of information across spectral and temporal dimensions. We statistically compared performance using mixed-model analyses of variance and identified strategies using decision-bound computational models.

Results: We found that children with dyslexia have an apparent selective RB category learning deficit, rather than a selective II learning deficit observed in prior work in adults with dyslexia.

Conclusion: These results suggest that the important skill of auditory category learning is impacted in children with dyslexia and throughout development, individuals with dyslexia may develop compensatory strategies that preserve declarative learning while developing difficulties in procedural learning.

Supplemental Material S1. Full details of the results.

Roark, C. L., Thakkar, V., Chandrasekaran, B., Centanni, T. M. (2024). Auditory category learning in children with dyslexia. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 67(3), 974–988.


This research was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01DC013315A1 (awarded to B.C.) and private funding from Helen Abadzi.