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The Role Of The Temporal Processing In Relation To Reading In Children With And Without Dyslexia

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Dyslexia description

Dyslexia is characterized by an inability to accurately recognize words and/or when spelling does either does not develop or does develop incompletely with significant difficulty. Despite more than 100years of research, defining dyslexia still remains vague and unclear due to the fact that researchers and medical experts are unable to agree on a definition as well as an underlying cause. Dyslexia can be defined as individuals who experience unusual difficulty in reading but possess ordinary intelligence and motivation sufficient for fluent reading and also reasonable reading education. IQ development and reading are shown to be dynamically connected over time, however, this connected relationship is not observed in dyslexia readers suggesting that cognition and reading develop independently.

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Case-study description:

The aim of this study is to examine the visual and auditory temporal processing development and the role of the temporal processing in relation to reading in children with and without dyslexia. A selection of 362 Chinese children from Taiwan was recruited from Grades 1 through to 6. Half with dyslexia and the other half a control group of normally developing children matching in age, gender and intelligence. Results show similar developmental trends in the auditory and visual modalities of normally developing children that are older children performing considerably better than the younger children in the first and second grade. However, when children with dyslexia were observed they showed substantial visual modality improvements as age increased. In Chinese character reading both visual and auditory modalities are essential in the first and second grades, and Chinese character reading in the third and fourth-grade visual modality predicted only orthographic knowledge. In contrast, only phonological awareness was affected by the auditory modality. In the Fifth and sixth grades children, visual temporal processing showed to only contribute slightly to the orthographic knowledge as well as Chinese character reading. Furthermore, the study shows that age influences and plays a significant role in the relationship between Chinese character reading and temporal processing.

Cognitive theory description:

Generally speaking, individuals who have dyslexia struggle with phonological processing, specifically, phonological awareness (PA) as well as rapid automatized naming (RAN) when it comes to alphabetic languages. Although, according to a study Farmer, M. E., & Klein, R. M. (1995), researchers claim that the cause of reading issues might be due to a deficit in processing fast sequenced data, specifically a temporal processing deficit. The structure of temporal processing involves a hierarchical order of information extraction over time or the assembly of an arrangement of behaviors. The failure to perceive, identify and individualize various stimuli in the correct order or sequence is defined as possessing a temporal processing deficit Klein, R. M. (2002). Tallal and associates were one of the first to discuss the temporal processing hypothesis and after their research of temporal order judgment, it was discovered that participants had the ability to respond to multiple auditory stimuli in the precise order of appearance even at different interstimulus intervals (ISIS). Their study also found that amongst the children with dyslexia, half displayed noticeable difficulties when assigned with TOJ task. Furthermore, a significant relationship between non-word reading and TOJ task. Later studies conducted also support the findings of poor performance on TOJ task with individuals with dyslexia as well as results from stimuli in visual and auditory modalities. Temporal Processing theory suggests there is a basic impairment of temporal processing, this limits the integration of sensory information in the central nervous system when converging in rapid successions. This temporal deficit results in a cascade of effects, beginning with disturbances of normally efficient developing phonological systems. The result of these phonological processing deficits is the inability to read normally and effectively. The Temporal Processing Deficit Theory provides strong evidence that reading performance is linked to temporal processing amongst readers alphabetic languages.


Results from the study were analyzed in two parts, the first 2×3 analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) categories of (children with and without dyslexia) x (grades 1&2, 3&4, 4&6). By controlling for nonverbal IQ and age showed the primary effect for category and grade on visual and auditory TOJ task. Second, primary effects were analyzed and show that children with dyslexia in the first and second grade performed considerably worse in both modalities compared to those without in the same grades. Also, in the three age groups of children without dyslexia, 1st/2nd graders performance was considerably worse than grades 3rd/ 4th and 5th/ 6th in both modalities, but no noteworthy differences when comparing 3rd/ 4th to 5th/ 6th grades. On the other hand, children with dyslexia show more obvious differences between the three age groups. Similarly, the performance of the 1st and 2nd grades was considerably worse compared to the 3rd/4th group and the 5th/ 6th group. But amongst grades, 3rd/4th and 5th/6th substantial differences were shown in the visual modality but no little to no differences in the auditory modality. When it comes to the standard development of temporal processing in ordinary children, we can see that the results consistent with the developmental trend of visual and auditory modalities of past studies Davis, S. M., & McCroskey, R. L. (1980).


Chinese characters are based on strokes which are associated with a morpheme and stands for a syllable in the Chinese language. The radical of Chinese characters can be represented and constructed by roughly 620 stroke patterns. Together, strokes and radical level information are very complex to process visually, this means that learning Chinese characters rely heavily on visual related skills and abilities. Furthermore, Chinese children who have dyslexia are found to have significant impairment in visual processing. Therefore, we can conclude that Chinese children with dyslexia have a definite deficit or impairment in the visual modality of temporal processing. However, this visual complexity in Chinese may be reflected in the results of this study in regards to the later development of temporal processing in visual modality and not in the auditory modality. This study includes a few important limitations. First, traditional methods of gathering temporal processing data discussed in Tallal’s studies (1980), include a constant stimulus which uses predefined ISIs to measure fast temporal processing abilities and results are calculated based on correct responses. However, methods like gap detection threshold or temporal order threshold suggest more reliable and efficient measurements because the repetitive appearance of critical ISIs is required.

In addition, this study displayed only differences with children in lower grades with and without dyslexia but not in higher grades. It is possible that longitudinal studies of children from non-reading stage to the reading stage will explain this specific limitation. Even with these limitations, this study is one of the first to display how temporal processing makes a distinction between children with and children without dyslexia while also predicting character reading and literacy abilities in primary school children. This study was able to show us the impact of age-related change on temporal processing. This knowledge has the potential of increasing our understanding and assisting practitioners and specialist in the development of new materials and teaching instructions and techniques.

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