Musical games benefit dyslexic kids

A study led by an Indian-origin researcher has shown a strong
association between the ability to perceive metrical structure in music and learning to read among children with dyslexia. Dyslexic children often find it difficult to count the number of syllables in spoken words or to determine whether These subtle difficulties are seen across languages with different writing systems and they indicate that the dyslexic brain has trouble processing the way that sounds in spoken language are structered.

In the new study, researchers at Cambridge have shown, using a music task, that this is linked to a broader difficulty in perceiving rhythmic patterns, or metrical structure.

Martina Huss, Usha Goswami and colleagues gave a group of 10-year-old children, with and without dyslexia, a listening task involving short tunes that had simple metrical structures with accents on certain notes. The children had to decide whether a pair of tunes sounded similar or different. To make two  tunes sound ‘different’, the researchers varied the length of the stronger  notes. However, it was not the perception of the length of these notes that was  shown to affect how succesful a child completed the task, but the child’s
perception of ‘rise time’, which is the time it takes for a sound to reach its  peak intensity. In speech, for example, the rise time of a syllable is the time  it takes to produce a vowel. Stressed syllables have longer rise times, so rise  time is a critical cue that helps in the perception of rhythmic regularity in  speech.

The children with dyslexia found the music task quite difficult, even
when presented with simple tunes containing just a few notes. The findings of  the study indeed showed a strong relationship between the ability to perceive  metrical structure in music and learning to read.

The researchers argued that the ability to perceive the alternation of
strong and weak ‘beats’ (stressed and unstressed syllables) is critical for the efficient perception of phonology in language. Furthermore, as rhythm is more  overt in music than language, they suggest that early interventions based on  musical games may offer previously unsuspected benefits for learning to read.

The study has been published in the Elsevier’s Cortex.
1st July 2011

About Dyslexia Lady

Maria Chivers is married with two children and lives in Swindon, UK. Maria is an international author and writes on: Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia; Dyspraxia; ADHD and other Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>