The perception of voice-onset time (VOT) during dichotic listening provides unique insight regarding auditory discrimination processes and, as such, an opportunity to learn more about individual differences in reading ability. We analysed the responses elicited by four VOT conditions: short-long pairs (SL), where a syllable with a short VOT was presented to the left ear and a syllable with a long VOT was presented to the right ear, as well as long-short (LS), short-short (SS), and long-long (LL) pairs. Stimuli were presented in three attention conditions, where participants were instructed to attend to either the left or right ear, or received no instruction. By around 9.5 years of age children perform similarly to adults in terms of the size and relative magnitude of the right ear advantage (REA) elicited by each of the four VOT conditions. Overall, SL pairs elicited the largest REA and LS pairs elicited a left ear advantage (LEA), reflecting stimulus-driven bottom-up processes. However, children were less able to modulate their responses according to attention condition, reflecting a lack of top-down control. Effective direction of attention to one ear or the other was related to measures of reading accuracy and comprehension, indicating that reading skill is associated with top-down control of bottom-up perceptual processes.
- Reading ability
- Speech perception