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Dichotic listening performance predicts language comprehension

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Dichotic listening performance is considered a reliable and valid procedure for the assessment of language lateralisation in the brain. However, the documentation of a relationship between language functions and dichotic listening performance is sparse, although it is accepted that dichotic listening measures language perception. In particular, language comprehension should show close correspondence to perception of language stimuli. In the present study, we tested samples of reading-impaired and normally achieving children between 10 and 13 years of age with tests of reading skills, language comprehension, and dichotic listening to consonant-vowel (CV) syllables. A high correlation between the language scores and the dichotic listening performance was expected. However, since the left ear score is believed to be an error when assessing language laterality, covariation was expected for the right ear scores only. In addition, directing attention to one ear input was believed to reduce the influence of random factors, and thus show a more concise estimate of left hemisphere language capacity. Thus, a stronger correlation between language comprehension skills and the dichotic listening performance when attending to the right ear was expected. The analyses yielded a positive correlation between the right ear score in DL and language comprehension, an effect that was stronger when attending to the right ear. The present results confirm the assumption that dichotic listening with CV syllables measures an aspect of language perception and language skills that is related to general language comprehension.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Bergen, Norway

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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