Florian Destoky, Julie Bertels, Maxime Niesen, Vincent Wens, Marc Vander Ghinst, Jacqueline Leybaert, Marie Lallier, Robin A A Ince, Joachim Gross, Xavier De Tiège, and Mathieu Bourguignon
PLoS Biology , Vol 18, Iss 8, p e3000840 (2020)
Biology (General) and QH301-705.5
Humans' propensity to acquire literacy relates to several factors, including the ability to understand speech in noise (SiN). Still, the nature of the relation between reading and SiN perception abilities remains poorly understood. Here, we dissect the interplay between (1) reading abilities, (2) classical behavioral predictors of reading (phonological awareness, phonological memory, and rapid automatized naming), and (3) electrophysiological markers of SiN perception in 99 elementary school children (26 with dyslexia). We demonstrate that, in typical readers, cortical representation of the phrasal content of SiN relates to the degree of development of the lexical (but not sublexical) reading strategy. In contrast, classical behavioral predictors of reading abilities and the ability to benefit from visual speech to represent the syllabic content of SiN account for global reading performance (i.e., speed and accuracy of lexical and sublexical reading). In individuals with dyslexia, we found preserved integration of visual speech information to optimize processing of syntactic information but not to sustain acoustic/phonemic processing. Finally, within children with dyslexia, measures of cortical representation of the phrasal content of SiN were negatively related to reading speed and positively related to the compromise between reading precision and reading speed, potentially owing to compensatory attentional mechanisms. These results clarify the nature of the relation between SiN perception and reading abilities in typical child readers and children with dyslexia and identify novel electrophysiological markers of emergent literacy.