Background: In Chinese Mandarin, lexical tones play an important role of providing contrasts in word meaning. They are pitch patterns expressed by frequency-modulated (FM) signals. Yet, few studies have looked at the relationship between low-level auditory processing of frequency signals and Chinese reading skills. Aims: The study aims to identify the role of auditory frequency processing in Chinese lexical tone awareness as well as character recognition in Chinese-speaking children. Methods: Children with (N = 28) and without (N = 27) developmental dyslexia (DD) were recruited. All participants completed two linguistic tasks, Chinese character recognition and lexical tone awareness, and two auditory frequency processing tasks, frequency discrimination and FM sweep direction identification. Results: The results revealed that Chinese-speaking children with DD were significantly poorer at all tasks. Particularly, Chinese character recognition was significantly related to FM sweep identification. Lexical tone awareness was significantly associated with both auditory frequency processing tasks. Regression analyses suggested the influence of FM sweep identification on Chinese character recognition contributed through lexical tone awareness. Conclusions and implication: This study suggests that poor auditory frequency processing may associate with Chinese developmental dyslexia with phonological deficits. In support of the phonological deficit hypothesis, what underlies phonological deficit is likely to be auditory-basis. A potential clinical implication is to reinforce auditory perception and sensitivity through intervention for phonological processing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas