I Demand Causation!


alt text from original: Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively while mouthing, “look over there”.

[I do not, in fact, demand causation. At current abilities, this would be wildly unethical to actually get, but the sheer number of things that were listed as correlated and almost definitely, somewhat, probably related was leaving me grumpy. There are these things! They might be related! Brains are incredibly complicated and we’re not really sure how any of the feedback loops and mediating variables could be at play here! But here are correlations! Hopefully they’re the hinty kind!]

Things that I have been informed, via a single paper, are correlated in some degree of statistical significance with being a poor reader at the point of having a developmental dyslexia classification:

-Inability or low ability to ignore background noise when attending to language.

-Dyslexia is highly correlated with having other sensory processing issues. About 50% of people with dyslexia have some other sensory processing impairment.

-Inability to improve sensory processing with repetition. Part of how we pick up language as babies comes from attending to what sounds repeat (This leads us to the theory that language learning in childhood is fundamentally different from in adulthood because young children learn new syllables and syllable combinations, rather than trying to learn at the word-level.) In tasks with lots and lots of trials, good readers improve over time at picking up new syllables but poor readers do not.

-Stop consonants, who are also, delightfully, called plosives, like the sounds in [da], [ga], and [ba] can be tricky to tell apart. High differentiation is correlated with high reading ability in children, poor differentiation between the sounds is correlated with poor reading.

-Language can be divvied up into harmonics, timing, and pitch. Processing of timing and harmonics in the subcortex seem to be correlated with reading capabilities….

-…in fact, in particular with the sound [da. Significant relationship between reading and encoding of timing and harmonics of /da/ (But the pitch-encoding of [da] didn’t seem to matter.)

-Having cortical symmetry in the auditory cortex is (say it with me now) is also correlated with poor reading abilities.

 


Chandrasekaran, B. and Kraus, N. (2012). Biological factors contributing to reading ability: Subcortical auditory function.  In Benasich, A. and Fitch, R. (Eds.), Developmental dyslexia: Early precursers, neurobiological markers and biological substrates.  Baltimore, MD: Brookes. (pp. 83-98).

featured image via xkcd 

Comments

  1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Things that I have been informed, via a single paper, are correlated in some degree of statistical significance with being a poor reader at the point of having a developmental dyslexia classification:
    *squint*

    Things that I have been informed, via a single paper, are correlated in some degree of statistical significance with being a poor reader at the point of having a developmental dyslexia classification:
    -_-

    Things that I have been informed, via a single paper, are correlated in some degree of statistical significance with being a poor reader at the point of having a developmental dyslexia classification:

    Oh, that’s what it says.
    Of all the sentences to get lost in. : P

  2. Kilian Hekhuis says

    “who are also, delightfully, called plosives, like the sounds /da/, /ga/, and /ba/” – If you’re going all linguistically, please note that forward slashes // are used to denote phonemes, not phones (which are written between square brackets []), and that e.g. “/da/” represents a sequence of two phonemes, /d/ and /a/.

    • Kate Donovan says

      so I should update these to say [da]? (Sorry, I’m going entirely off my reading’s behavior, which skipped Linguistics 101 and wandering right into a discussion of the neuroscience)

      • Kilian Hekhuis says

        Yeah, probably, although [da] is still two sounds, though you could say “the d sound in [da]” or the like. It’s tricky though, as differentiation of two sounds is not only about it’s audible qualities, but I think you can skip that here :). What I also noticed is that you only give examples of voiced plosives, but I think that unvoiced plosives (/t/, /p/* and the like) are, amongst themselves, not more or less differentiatiable than their voiced counterparts.

        *I’m deliberatly writing the phonemes here, as unlike the voiced plosive, the unvoiced plosives have two realizations, or allophones, in English, which complicates it a bit.

        • Kate Donovan says

          Duly updated! Thank you for saving my linguistically-novice butt.

          I only talked about voiced plosives because the research only investigated reader skill in correlation with the voiced ones. I wouldn’t be surprised if unvoiced plosives also correlated, but I don’t want to make the claim without research.

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