Differential Entrainment of Neuroelectric Delta Oscillations in Developmental Dyslexia
Oscillatory entrainment to the speech signal is important for language processing, but has not yet been studied in developmental disorders of language. Developmental dyslexia, a difficulty in acquiring efficient reading skills linked to difficulties with phonology (the sound structure of language), has been associated with behavioural entrainment deficits. It has been proposed that the phonological 'deficit' that characterises dyslexia across languages is related to impaired auditory
... to speech at lower frequencies via neuroelectric oscillations (,10 Hz, 'temporal sampling theory'). Impaired entrainment to temporal modulations at lower frequencies would affect the recovery of the prosodic and syllabic structure of speech. Here we investigated event-related oscillatory EEG activity and contingent negative variation (CNV) to auditory rhythmic tone streams delivered at frequencies within the delta band (2 Hz, 1.5 Hz), relevant to sampling stressed syllables in speech. Given prior behavioural entrainment findings at these rates, we predicted functionally atypical entrainment of delta oscillations in dyslexia. Participants performed a rhythmic expectancy task, detecting occasional white noise targets interspersed with tones occurring regularly at rates of 2 Hz or 1.5 Hz. Both groups showed significant entrainment of delta oscillations to the rhythmic stimulus stream, however the strength of inter-trial delta phase coherence (ITC, 'phase locking') and the CNV were both significantly weaker in dyslexics, suggestive of weaker entrainment and less preparatory brain activity. Both ITC strength and CNV amplitude were significantly related to individual differences in language processing and reading. Additionally, the instantaneous phase of prestimulus delta oscillation predicted behavioural responding (response time) for control participants only.