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Reading skills are related to global, but not local, acoustic pattern perception


Although reading ability has been related to the processing of simple pitch features such as isolated transitions or continuous modulation1,2,3, spoken language also contains complex patterns of pitch changes that are important for establishing stress location4 and for segmenting the speech stream5. These aspects of spoken language processing depend critically on pitch pattern (global structure) rather than on absolute pitch values (local structure)6,7. Here we show that the detection of global structure, and not local structure, is predictive of performance on measures of phonological skill and reading ability, which supports a critical importance of pitch contour processing in the acquisition of literacy.

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Figure 1: Examples of the auditory sequences.


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This work was supported entirely by the Wellcome Trust.

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Correspondence to Jessica M. Foxton.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Foxton, J., Talcott, J., Witton, C. et al. Reading skills are related to global, but not local, acoustic pattern perception. Nat Neurosci 6, 343–344 (2003).

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