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Auditory Processing and Reading Disability: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Auditory Processing and Reading Disability: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Presenter Name:Sean McWeeny

School/Affiliation:Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavior, McMaster University; Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University

Co-Authors:Elizabeth S. Norton


Purpose: Reading disability (RD) is frequently associated with deficits in auditory processing (i.e., processing speech and non-linguistic sounds). Several hypotheses exist regarding the link between RD and auditory processing, but none fully account for the range of impairments reported. These impairments have been primarily summarized by qualitative reviews, and meta-analytic evidence for most auditory processing impairments is lacking. Method: We conducted a PRISMA-compliant meta-analysis quantifying the degree to which individuals with RD are impaired on four categories of auditory processing abilities in relation to RD: frequency discrimination, intensity discrimination, duration discrimination, and gap detection. Results: Medium or large auditory processing impairments were present for frequency (g = .79), duration (g = .80), and intensity discrimination (g = .60), as well as gap detection (g = .80). No differences were found across task designs, and significant publication bias was detected. Conclusion: Our meta-analysis is an important step forward for the field of auditory processing and RD, documenting a large, non-linguistic, multiple-domain auditory processing impairment. Contrary to previous studies, we found a significant deficit in intensity discrimination. The impairments described here must be accounted for by future causal hypotheses in RD and suggest that auditory processing impairments are broader than previously thought.

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