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Speech loses beat in dyslexia

Children whose reading and spelling problems get classified as dyslexia fail to note a critical rhythmic beat in spoken words, a new study suggests. This sound cue, which lasts for one-tenth to one-fifth of a second, marks the transition from a consonant sound to a speech segment beginning with a vowel.

Such rhythmic neglect may make it difficult to sound out words when reading, say psychologist Usha Goswami of University College London and her colleagues. In particular, problems may arise for words that are similar or that rhyme, such as seat, sweet, and street.

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