Monday, February 6, 2012

The Relation Between Music and Phonological Processing in Normal-Reading Children and Children with Dyslexia

Forgeard, M., Schlaug, G., Norton, A., Rosam, C., & Iyengar, U. (2008). The relation between music and phonological processing in normal-reading children and children with dyslexia. Music Perception 25(4), 383-390.

Research has shown that a core deficit of dyslexia is phonological. Other research has found that musical ability is related to reading and phonological ability in both normal-reading children and those with dyslexia. If musical ability is supported by the same underlying process as phonological skill, then it is possible that musical intervention could play a role in remediating the phonological deficits present in children with dyslexia.

Forgeard et al. examined this relationship between music ability and reading ability through a series of four studies. In the first two studies, they compared musical skills to phonological and reading skills among normal readers with and without musical training. Results of the first study confirmed the relationship between phonological processing and pitch processing. Findings from the second study showed that reading ability was related to auditory music skills. They also found that children receiving musical training showed greater improvement in phonemic decoding than children receiving no musical training.

The third study tested the hypothesis that phonological and reading deficits in children with dyslexia should predict deficits in music processing. Results showed that musical discrimination predicted phonological discrimination, which in turn predicted reading ability; however, musical ability did not predict reading ability. The final study compared musical processing abilities of normal-reading children, both with and without musical training, to those of children with dyslexia. The researchers found that normal-readers with musical training performed better than normal readers without musical training, who performed significantly better than children with dyslexia.

This study offers some evidence of the relationship between musical processing and phonological processing. Forgeard et al. suggest that musical intervention may be a helpful addition in intervention programs targeting phonological processing skills. Results should be interpreted with caution due to small sample sizes.

Blogger: Laura Pauls is completing an independent study examining the agreement between standardized language tests and parent and teacher concerns about language development. She is finishing her final year in the Masters of Clinical Science program in Speech Pathology.

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