Auditory cortical processing of speech-like sounds was studied in 9 dyslexic and 11 normal-reading adults. Noise/ square-wave sequences, mimicking transitions from a fricative consonant to a vowel, were presented binaurally once every 1.1 sec and the cortical responses were recorded with a whole-scalp neuromagnetometer. The auditory cortices of both hemispheres were less reactive to acoustical changes in dyslexics than in controls, as was evident from the weaker responses to the noise/square-wave transitions. The results demonstrate that dyslexic adults are deficient in processing acoustic changes presented in rapid succession within tens to hundreds of milliseconds. The observed differences could be related to insufficient triggering of automatic auditory attention, resulting, for instance, from a general deficiency of the magnocellular system.

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